Siri in your living room: Apple unveils $349 HomePod

Apple'HomePod speaker to take on Amazon GoogleMore

Apple'HomePod speaker to take on Amazon GoogleMore

As were the rumors suggesting, Apple was going to launch a Wi-Fi speaker and the company did that at the WWDC 2017 keynote. It's the individual services that really differentiate the voice assistants and the speakers. Apple plans to launch HomePod in December for $349, starting with the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.

Powering the HomePod is an Apple A8 processor, which handles all the heavy lifting demands of the real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation.

Sound-wise, HomePod bests both the Echo and the Home, which makes it a good choice if you want a high-end speaker in addition to a voice assistant.

However, it still lacks some features that Amazon and Google's products already have. The speaker is spatially aware, so that it can sense its location in the room, and uses six microphones so that it can be voice-activated from anywhere in the room. At $350 a speaker, HomePod is almost double the price of Amazon Echo, which retails for $180.

Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Echo smart home speaker device now dominates the global intelligent home speaker market. "The key about things like Siri is to make it not feel like something you have to think about", he said. Siri will be able intelligently to create a personal playlist based on what you tell it to play.

A light comes on to remind you that it's listening.

The smart features and Siri integration nearly felt like an afterthought, but they're definitely worth mentioning.

But investors hoping HomePod will put a dent in Amazon's Alexa dominance will probably want to pump the brakes a little. The number of skills it has, but just how many of them are actually useful is another matter.

There are several significant differences between Amazon's device and Apple's newly-announced competitor, including price, shape, and more. At WWDC earlier this week, Apple introduced the HomePod, the iPhone makers answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Although Siri does support a narrow set of third party voice actions on iOS devices, it's unclear whether these will be accessible on HomePod. So if you go for an Apple HomePod, you will need to first have HomeKit enabled accessories. Though HomePod only supports Apple Music and nothing else. It can even process advanced queries when the user says something along the lines of "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?" and get a response depending on the song that's playing.

Apple has chose to go for the high end of the market, and is positioning HomePod more as a luxury speaker than a hands-free assistant. After users activate the device and "Hey Siri" is recognised locally on the device information is sent to Apple services where it is encrypted and send using a Siri identifier. "The notion of a "home assistant" or "virtual assistant" seems to be secondary". Other services like Pandora and Spotify can be played through Apple's AirPlay system, however this still a detriment compared to the direct streaming from virtually every music service offered by the HomePod's competitors.

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