Sci-tech

Apple's New HomePod Speaker to Compete with Amazon Echo

Apple's New HomePod Speaker to Compete with Amazon Echo

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats. And not being first to market means Apple's HomePod faces stiff competition from Amazon Echo, Google Home, and later this year high-end Sonos speakers will come with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, putting them head-to-head with Homepod, too.

While Apple (aapl) didn't mention any competitors by name during the event, the company's HomePod has features that are strikingly similar to Amazon's Echo, another smart home hub that has built-in speakers, is powered by a virtual assistant named Alexa, and can help users power the smart home.

According to Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, the HomePod will "reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes".

Apple is only making its Siri-controlled HomePod smart speaker available sometime in December 2017, so why did they showcase the device this early?

Apple made it clear during the unveiling of the HomePod that the new speaker is predominately focused on giving users a better music experience. Apple overlaid their A8 chip, which is the real brains behind the speaker, allowing the device to adapt audio playback to the environment that the speaker is set in.

The HomePod speaker stands just under seven inches (18 cm) tall and is covered in fabric mesh that will come in white or gray.

The HomePod will go on sale later this year and costs $349. Google's $130 (£105) Home speaker is triggered by the phrase "Hey Google" while Amazon's Echo uses "Alexa".

The website's description of the HomePod reads, "We completely reimagined how a speaker should make music in the home". "People went from being happy and excited to sitting in workshops and realizing, "I can't use it, '" Brian Roemmele, a developer who attended the conference, told the Journal".

Addressing Apple's digital assistant, you'll be able to say, "Hey Siri, play Busta Rhymes" "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, '" and you'll be jamming.

A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said. "But I did notice the HomePod was able fill a large room very well and sounded great no matter what angle I was listening from". In addition to playing music, HomePod can provide news, general knowledge, reminders, podcasts, translation, weather, and HomeKit controls, among other things. Ditto for the Apple TV, where Siri functionality arrived a few upgrades after launch.

Apple executives say Siri is improving. Moreover, demonstrations have proved that the HomePod sounds even better when synced to another HomePod.

If Amazon's head of devices is nervous about the new Apple HomePod, he's not letting that show.


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