Monday, 23 October, 2017

Apple wants to rock the market with HomePod, faces challenges

Lori Graves | 08 June, 2017, 11:21

Apple is finally jumping into the smart speaker craze.

Combining all of these scorching hot takes into one cohesive opinion is tough, but we're going to go with: Apple's HomePod is a roll of toilet paper wrapped in thread, that costs way too much, but sounds totally fantastic.

There is a bunch to break down here, including the HomePod compares to Amazon's Echo, but let's first look at what exactly Apple introduced. It has seven small "tweeter" speakers in a ring arranged at the bottom of the unit and features in the middle a large 4-inch woofer.

Apple said it is also using "on-device learning" to enable Siri to take people's tastes into account. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops. The HomePod, Apple Music and Siri deliver the best music experience in the home that streams ad-free directly to the HomePod. The upgrade puts Apple's streaming music framework on par with Google's Chromecast for audio, which already supports multiroom audio. Google sells Home for $130 (roughly Rs. 8,370), promoting the smart speakers with discounts.

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HomePod also doubles as a smart home hub, the latest HomeKit-friendly hub besides the Apple TV (and your iOS device). Like Apple TV, the HomePod allows for remote access to any HomeKit compatible device through the Home app. The HomePod, which stands less than 7 inches high, sounds "much deeper and richer than a Sonos Play 3 or an Amazon Echo, closer to what you might hear in a high-end home stereo system", the New York Times' Farhad Manjoo wrote. But Apple will need to have something else up its sleeve to convince casual fans to buy a $350 smart speaker that isn't as smart as the competition.

Cook also used the Apple keynote to show off new iPad and Mac computer models, as well as provide glimpses at coming versions of the software powering the technology titan's devices. But Sonos doesn't have a digital assistant, and HomePod's Siri will serve as virtual butler, DJ and musicologist by skipping and suggesting songs, as well as performing basic web searches, looking up the weather forecasts and setting alarms. And the result is quite evident; a comparison of the audio qualities of HomePod and Amazon Echo will definitely bring out some clear differences, with the former topping the chart in most of the charts.

Asked about Amazon potentially introducing with its own premium-tier Echo speaker, Limp didn't sound too keen on the idea. And if we are not wrong, Samsung might launch the device with an inbuilt camera like Amazon's Echo Show. Unfortunately, Siri is tied to Apple Music, which means that Spotify and Amazon Prime Music aren't available (at least for now). All thanks to Apple's new AirPlay 2. Imagine pairing a well-done augmented reality app with a voice assistant capability in the home, and you might have something pretty cool.

"Apple's base should like it, because they are committed to the ecosystem", Enderle said of HomePod. The real victor could be Echo Show, a $229 model that comes with a seven-inch touchscreen. While the Amazon Echo has done an good job integrating with hundreds of various smart home devices through its skill platform, it's limited in its ability to execute on things such as scenes.

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