As has been rumoured for some time now Apple has finally announced that they are entering into the home assistant market with a device called HomePod. This completes the big 4 having now announced such products or services (Amazon Echo, Google Home and Microsoft Cortana making the other 3).
I suspect Apple will be a strong contender, Apple has a history of being a late comer into the market but generally done right and they steal the show. I doubt that people not already in the Apple ecosystem will purchase the device but it will be a strong contender that for someone who already owns an Apple computer or an iPhone. I suspect such people would have likely opted for an Amazon Echo.
The product page for the Apple HomePod seems to focus heavily on playing music, however, there is what can almost be described as a footnote mentioning the functionality that Siri will give, this is where the Home Assistant will come into play. The HomePod will undoubtedly rely heavily on Apple's Home Kit which already has many IoT devices supporting it. The only downside is that at present Siri has been underdeveloped since Apple integrated it into the iPhone back in 2012 and really requires work on improving. Apple had this covered as well, there are new integrations available with Siri, many of these were clearly aimed towards the fact that HomePod is coming, what is also more interesting is that Siri has a male and female voice, I wonder if Amazon will follow suit.
1 intriguing part of the product page is that they are advertising how well multiple HomePod's work with each other, including if they are in the same room through the Airplay 2 protocol. The HomePod will also directionally send audio depending upon the position the Home Assistant device.
I have yet to see the official list of regions the device will be released in initially, however, the product page mentions that it understands English and specifically mentions Australia, UK and US, upon checking the device is featured in the Australian store page. This should make it the first Home Assistant officially sold in Australia.
The release date for the HomePod is currently slated for a December release. In the typical Apple way, the HomePod will not be cheap, it comes in at $349. For this price, you could purchase a Google Home, Amazon Dot and Amazon Echo and still have $10 to spare.
No doubt I will be purchasing 1 to go along with my Amazon Echo's and Google Home to at least compare them.