Siri in your living room: Apple unveils $349 HomePod

June 23 14:04 2017

However, Apple (AAPL) stopped short of calling it a home assistant and thus a direct competitor to companies like Google Inc.

The new product was unveiled during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where the company showcased some of the capabilities of the smart assistant, Mac World reports.

Apple’s SVP of Global Marketing Phil Schiller said Sonos aren’t smart speakers and Amazon Echos aren’t good speakers. What sets it apart are its smarts; that puts it up against other “smart” speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The new HomePod works smoothly with your Apple Music subscriptions and it gives you an instant access to over 40 million individual songs. Apple approaches voice interaction problems programmatically – Siri needs to be able to do X, so here are the ways you can tell it to do X. Google (and to a lesser extent Amazon) created a platform that actually understands context with machine learning.

The HomePod will ship in December, beginning in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia, and cost $349 US. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year. Siri can do everything you’d expect, like setting timers and playing music, but Siri is smarter now, especially where music is concerned.

In terms of design, the HomePod looks nothing like Google Home or Amazon Echo, although it does resemble a stump covered with a mesh fabric for the speakers, akin to the base of Google Home or the exterior of Amazon Tap. Schiller talked up the HomePod’smusicologist” features, which can answer requests like ‘Play something new, ‘ ‘What was the top song in 1983?’ and ‘Who’s the drummer in this?’.

HomePod is positioned as a rival to Amazon Echo. You can also ask HomePod to control HomeKit devices and adjust the air conditioning or lights. That sure seems to be what we’re getting with the highly-priced HomePod. But the real competition between Apple, Google and Amazon in smart speakers may come down to the quality of their intelligent assistants.

HomePod uses the company’s A8 chip, which Apple also uses for its mobile devices.

Other features include a room-sensing technology that will automatically adapt the sound to the size of its location.

Apple's Home Pod is coming. What to know about smart speakers

Siri in your living room: Apple unveils $349 HomePod
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