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Apple to Introduce Homepod Next Year

The device is the company's answer to Amazon's Echo smart speaker

CUPERTINO, Calif. � With the success of Amazon�s Echo, and that of Google�s Home and Home mini, many may be wondering just why Apple doesn�t have a product in this space. Well, turns out they�ve been working on one, to be called Homepod.

Apple audio engineers had been working on an early version of�the HomePod�speaker for about two years, since 2014 when they were blindsided by the Echo, with its voice-activated assistant named Alexa, according to a recent article in Bloomberg. The Apple engineers �jokingly accused one another of leaking details of their project to Amazon, then bought Echos�so they could take them apart and see how they were put together.� They quickly�deemed the Echo�s sound quality �inferior� and got back to work building a better speaker.

Two years passed, and Echo became a hit with customers. Meanwhile, Apple �dithered over its own speaker,�according to people familiar with the situation.� The project was�cancelled and revived several times, while going through multiple permutations�(at one point it stood 3 feet tall) as �executives struggled to figure out�how it would fit into the home and Apple�s ecosystem of products and services,� according to the same article.

The $350 HomePod, which will debut early next year, won�t�be able to do many of the things the Echo�can, according to Bloomberg. Amazon offers thousands of �skills� (voice-activated apps) that let users do a range of things, and the Google Home�Mini is similar; however, the�HomePod will be mostly limited to playing tunes from Apple Music, controlling Apple-optimized smart home appliances�and sending messages through an iPhone.�