Battle of the smart speakers - Apple HomePod versus the rest

Eloi Lecerf
Junho 9, 2017

It will be priced at a (surprisingly expensive) $349 and come in white and space grey. Schiller termed this as being "spatially aware" and it can also cancel out any other background noise. The HomePod will launch in the US, UK and Australia in December. It's a smart market strategy.

In early May Patently Apple posted the first report in the Apple community about Inventec having landed the first order for Apple's Home Device for Siri. Inside there are 7 tweeters, six microphones and an A8 chip - the same chip inside the iPhone.

A prototype Apple HomePod is seen during the annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017. With Airplay 2 we finally get multiroom audio support, a huge upgrade that will allow homes with Apple's HomePod - as well as products from partners like Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Marantz and others - to stream audio wirelessly to different rooms and to multiple speakers.

So what should you know? Siri can help the user choose music (what AAPL called the speaker's "musicologist"), including recommending tracks. Apple late arrival comes even as it pioneered the voice assistant industry by launching Siri in 2011 with the iPhone 4S.

Siri is used on more than 375 million devices per month.

The price is quite a jump from Google's $129 Home and Amazon's $180 full-sized Echo. This device rolls with a "wide range of deep, rich bass" as well as "smooth, distortion-free sound" - so says Apple. In addition, Munster said he was impressed with the audio quality of Apple's new home speaker, the HomePod.

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The HomePod with Siri can do most or all of the things that Google Home and Amazon Echo do, although there was no discussion of a developer ecosystem (that's coming, undoubtedly).

As VentureBeat's Chris O' Brien recently pointed out, Apple has a steep hill to climb, but it's been done before. Although Apple Watch has emerged as the leader in its technological niche, it hasn't become a smash hit like the iPhone or the iPad - at least until tablet sales started declining. They were just the best overall. The HomePod only starts "listening" to what you're saying when you say "Hey Siri".

A USA Today poll published today found that 80 percent of consumers are familiar with Siri, compared to 67 percent for Alexa and 55 percent for Google Assistant. Siri® can also handle advanced searches within the music library, so users can ask questions like "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?" or create a shared Up Next queue with everyone in the home.

Above: A visualization of HomePod spatial awareness, from the WWDC 2017 keynote address.

New indoor maps of areas like malls and airports indicated that Apple might be laying groundwork to display information over images of those places in the future.

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