June 28, 2017

Apple HomePod - Things to know about the Wi-Fi speakers with Siri

13 June 2017, 08:21 | Kristin Schwartz

Apple HomePod - Things to know about the Wi-Fi speakers with Siri

Apple HomePod

Siri can also be employed to play songs through the company's streaming service Apple Music. The Apple HomePod only works with the Apple HomeKit. I do hope support for Spotify is added to the HomePod though, Apple Music is a decent enough service but transferring playlists is a pain.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released a year ago, were the first entrants in a promising market. It will play music, answer your questions, set reminders, and so on. Both Amazon's Alexa and Google Home's Google Assistant will be able to power a swath of compatible home automation products and are directly linked to big home automation companies like Nest, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings and WeMo.

The HomePod will go on sale later this year and costs $349.

For instance, in the voice-enabled speakers market: Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot retails for $179.99 and $49.99 a piece and Google Home retails for $129.99.

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar almost an after thought. We doubt that folks at Amazon are too concerned about Siri taking over Alexa in the home assistant department in the foreseeable future. Apple explained the HomePod with a combination of beamforming, advanced algorithms, virtual transparency, room sensing, and musicologist.

From there, Limp was asked if he sees the HomePod as a serious competitor to Amazon's Alexa line of products. The Apple HomePod also incorporates Siri, the digital voice-activated assistant for Apple. The Echo helps Amazon sell Amazon Prime subscriptions and other digital content while Google aims to lure customers into its services that support its advertising revenue.

Amazon's Echo is designed for flexibility.

There are spec differences too: HomePod features 7 tweeters, a 4-inch woofer, a 6-microphone array and an Apple A8 chip processor, while Echo features a 2.0-inch tweeter, a 2.5-inch woofer, a 7-microphone array and a Texas Instruments processor.

Apple on Monday fired a shot over Amazon's smart home bow, but the e-commerce giant might not think it matters.

But at US$349 (S$480) in the US, the HomePod is almost twice as expensive as the Echo (US$179.99) and three times the price of the Google Home (US$109). But if that's a problem for you, the Echo or Home may be better smart speaker choices.

When Apple gets into a market, it usually has something innovative to bring to the table. For now there doesn't appear to a toolkit that third-party programmers can use to create apps for the gadget or any way to distribute them to consumers, and Apple hasn't said anything on the subject (we've asked).

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