As had been rumored, Apple announced its entry into the voice-activated home speaker market at its Worldwide Developers Conference.
The wireless speaker will be called the HomePod, and it is expected to ship in December 2017 at a price of $349. It will come in two colors—white and Space gray—and will be controlled by Apple’s Siri digital assistant. It will work with Apple Music’s streaming-music service.
Although the speaker will perform the same functions that other voice-activated home speakers perform, such as reciting news, weather and traffic reports, Apple emphasizes the sound quality of its speaker. The HomePod will include a seven-tweeter array and a 4-inch upward-facing woofer. (By comparison, the woofer on the Amazon Echo is 2-1/2 inches.)
Apple also says the HomePod will adjust the audio automatically to balance the sound based on the speaker’s placement in a room, and two HomePod speakers will work together automatically.