June 28, 2017

Apple TV enables Amazon Video app, stalemate thaws

09 June 2017, 02:36 | Kristin Schwartz

If the speculation pans out, the speaker would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015.

Technically speaking, the Apple HomePod is a wireless speaker which is capable of using spatial awareness and sense where it is located in the room, and automatically adjust audio output accordingly. Amazon's Echo devices and the Google Home have initially entered the fray, with other smaller players like LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel also trying to make their mark.

With Apple doing small things to make AI more visible and powerful across more of its devices, the company appears to be acknowledging people's continued use of impressively smart apps like Google Translate and the Google App.

Apple unveiled its long-awaited HomePod at its annual developers conference taking place this week in the heart of Silicon Valley, enticing lovers of its products with a high-end offering in a market dominated by lower-priced devices from Amazon and Google.

"Apple is smart to frame the HomePod as a music-centric and audio-centric device rather than just another smart speaker or another home for Siri", said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson.

A new iMac Pro is on the way too.

Although the HomePod looks a lot like several competing products from Amazon and Sonos, the company insists it's really quite unique. Google has just sliced off $20 from the speaker's price tag, bringing it down from $129 to $109. The HomePod is able to listen to you while playing music no matter how far you are from the device or how loud the music is playing.

Like any other Apple device, the Apple HomePod activates itself on listening to "Hey Siri".

ME-TOO COMPANY Samsung is reportedly working on its own AI-powered smart speaker in a bid to rival the Apple HomePod. It will then enter other global markets in 2018. It's clear Apple believe the sleek design it's become synonymous with and better audio performance (and well, a product being "Apple") means people will be willing to pay a premium.

Either way, the HomePod has been announced and arrives later this year. Despite a slightly bass-heavy performance, our sister mag What Hi Fi? thought the HomePod edged the Sonos and outclassed the Echo in a side-by-side demo. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year.

When Tim Cook took the stage to wrap up the WWDC 2017 keynote on Monday with one final announcement, he clearly had saved the most interesting for last. The company said it wasn't a competition-based decision; it was merely done because Apple TV and Chromecast were not ideal for streaming Amazon Prime Video programming.

Next up was Apple's new version of macOS called High Sierra, which was launched with new Safari browser.

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