Apple unveils smart home assistant HomePod

Apple takes on Amazon and Google devices with its own smart home device, called HomePod

NEW YORK - Apple is taking aim at Amazon's Echo.

The company unveiled the "Homepod" Monday, a voice-activated, internet-connected speaker that expands usage of the company's Siri voice assistant.

The seven inch speaker will cost $349 , but won't be available until December.  Along with playing music content, the unit will also send texts and control home gadgets.

It brings Apple into direct competition with such offerings as Amazon's Echo and Google's Home.

"I do think there's the perception that Siri's been left behind, and they've been left behind with the devices," says Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher.  "Both Google and Amazon are advertising heavily, getting people used to the devices."

Apple also introduced new elements for its upcoming iOS 11 mobile software that include the ability for person to person payments via Apple Pay, a male voice option for Siri, and the equivalent of an out-of-office message for texts while driving.

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