Apple unveils HomePod, competition for Amazon Echo

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Apple's HomePod, a wireless speaker for the home. (Apple Inc.)

Apple Inc. has unveiled a new device called the HomePod, a voice-activated smart speaker that is a lot like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Apple's announcement Monday had so much information that some compared it to a data dump. So we thought we'd make ourselves useful and tell you what you should pay attention to and what you could skip over to save time.

If you were taking notes while Apple CEO Tim Cook was talking at the annual developers' conference, you probably went through more than a couple of pages. The bullet points include updates to Apple's operating systems for everything, from the TV to Watch to mobile devices and computers. And Amazon will be coming to an Apple TV near you, ending a long few between the two institutions.

But in the midst of all these new bells and whistles, the only new product presented was the HomePod speaker, a Siri-powered device to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home.

"One of the features touted by the HomePod is that it's going to have a lot better audio qualities than any of the other speakers out there," Tom's Guide reviews editor Mike Prospero said. "However, it costs $349, which is much more expensive than Amazon's Echo or Google Home."

Prospero said the HomePod is worthy of your attention. So what can you skip over?

"There are a few updates to its laptop line," he said of the new MacBook and MacBook Pro. "Some of which were just modest improvements."

And if you're a tablet kind of person, besides seemingly being in an exclusive company these days, Apple is trying to hold your attention or wallet with the new iPad Pro.

"It's not going to be cheap, either, I think it's going for around $799," Prospero said. "They're really looking to make [the iPad pro] a productivity tool."

So got all that? If you're into tablets, Apple has something for you. If you're waiting for a better laptop, then not so much. And if you're excited about the HomePod system, you can hold onto that enthusiasm until it goes on sale in December.