Apple Inc (AAPL.O) on Monday introduced the HomePod, a voice-controlled speaker that can make music suggestions and adjust home temperatures, taking aim at Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Alexa feature and Echo devices.
The move is the first into a completely new area by Apple for more than two years as the world’s most valuable technology company looks to make up for a dip in iPhone sales and new ways to get customers to use more of its money-making apps and services.
According to Apple HomePod is a Siri voice assistant work with a larger variety of apps.
Apple’s Siri assistant is integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company’s Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats.
HomePod users initially constrained by Siri’s lack of capabilities as compared to Alexa, which also boasts the ability to order millions of Amazon products as well as food from restaurants like Domino’s.
The HomePod speaker stands just under seven inches (18 cm) tall and is covered in fabric mesh that will come in white or gray. A computer processor will tune sound to the room and beam specific parts of music, like a singer’s voice, toward the listener.
Apple will begin shipping the HomePod to the United States, Britain and Australia in December.
The speaker, while expected by some industry watchers, marked Apple’s first new product announcement since the Apple Watch in September 2014. As a music-playing device, it is also a challenger to Sonos.
A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users’ calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said. Apple shares closed down 1 percent at $153.93, not far below the all-time high set last month.