Apple's HomePod "reinventing" listening to music at home

Apple's HomePod

Apple's HomePod "reinventing" listening to music at home

The HomePod, though not a new technology, is interesting in two aspects: how it stacks up against Amazon and Alexa, and whether it will it deliver on its vow of "nailing" it. Cost could be an issue, because it's going to have a U.S. price tag of $349 (Dh1,281) - way above the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo's $180 (Dh661) and Google Home's $129 (Dh474), though Schiller insists it's better-priced than a Wi-Fi speaker-plus-smart-speaker combo, which can go as high as $700 (Dh2,571). The data sent from Apple's speaker is anonymized, meaning there's no name or Apple ID attached to your commands. Apple could be saving an overhauled Siri to accompany an iPhone announcement, for example, or have additional HomePod products in new form factors planned for farther down the line. They cited, for instance, that Amazon doesn't have the same restrictions in place that Apple does, while adding how recent tests concluded Siri just isn't as accurate as platforms like Amazon's Alexa or Google Home.

Data for the Google Home is encrypted in-transit and at rest, which means that it's protected as it heads to Google's servers and encoded again where it's stored.

The artificial intelligence within those two exceeds Siri's current capabilities, but with Apple having announced a wide range of updates to Siri at WWDC, the virtual assistant's power by the time HomePod launches remains unknown.

Moreover, the former employee added, in the years following Amazon's release of the first Echo device, Apple's Siri team has been slowed down in many ways - from "setting ambitious goals, shifting strategies, and a culture that prioritizes user privacy".

Although most of these skills aren't useful, it's possible to order a pizza or flowers, get wine recommendations or check your bank account balance.

In the meantime, what we do know is that Siri can help you control your music and answer for you even some of the "deepest" questions, such as finding out who's the bassist of a particular track - part of Apple's aim to make Siri a musicologist at your service. "The iTunes store has great data, but the scale of it is not Google or Amazon".

Apple announced its first ever smart speaker, HomePod, on Monday.

HomePod, on the other hand, supports Apple Music, full stop, plus whatever you can stream from an iPhone over AirPlay 2. It is safe to say that HomePod is a modified and upgraded version of the iPod, which was mostly marketed to cater to the demand for portable music devices. Not to mention the fact that, like the iMac Pro, the HomePod is not scheduled to ship until at least December. Siri on iOS only got third-party extensions a year ago, and developer options there are still extremely limited in what Apple will allow devs to build, despite the fact that Siri beat nearly every other digital assistant to market.

It's unclear if the HomePod will work with third-party services right away. That same user can't ask Siri to play music through Spotify, which competes with Apple Music.

It's a different situation with the HomePod.

For one, Apple has locked itself into a design for the device, so they can't really make any major changes at this point. But HomePod, which Apple spent years developing, is still nowhere near as sophisticated as competing products. There are three Echo models available: the Echo ($179) which has a pretty decent speaker itself, the Echo Dot ($49) which can connect to external speakers, and the Tap ($129) which has an internal battery.

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