Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

Note that there's still a good deal we don't know about the HomePod yet - Apple declined to comment on if the device will support multiple users, for instance, and it's not clear if it'll integrate with Spotify.

Compared to the audio quality of Apple's new HomePod, the Amazon Echo is a significant mismatch. And, with HomeKit integration similar to what's available on the iPhone, the user can ask Siri, via their HomePod to control connected devices in their home. You'll generally be able to do the same stuff you'd do with Siri now on your phone, but via a home speaker.

The speaker, while expected by some industry watchers, marked Apple's first new product announcement since the Apple Watch in September 2014. You buy 3 Google Home's or 2 Amazon Echo's for the price of one Apple HomePod!

How does it line up?

Available in white or black, the HomePod, which looks something like a microphone, features seven tweeters and an upward firing 4-inch woofer, six microphones and the same A8 64-bit ARM-based processor used in the iPhone.

Siri will be integrated into the $349 (€310) speaker and can make music recommendations that pair Apple Music, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats. About a year after Mr. Jobs's death, Apple hired Bill Stasior, an Amazon search executive, to oversee Siri. Granted, the other two are much smaller in size than the HomePod and naturally would weigh less.

But that's not what makes smart speakers like HomePod so compelling, is it? By the same token, you can drive beefier speakers with a $50 Echo Dot, but Apple's solution is less cluttered and it offers whole-home audio support. The Echo helps Amazon sell Amazon Prime subscriptions and other digital content while Google aims to lure customers into its services that support its advertising revenue. It's just different from what Apple is doing with the HomePod.




Speaking of the limited and delayed access of Siri, a developer Brian Roemmele, who attended WWDC said, "People went from being happy and excited to sitting in workshops and realising, I can't use it". Google Home has Pandora, YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Pandora and a few others.

Apple could eventually open the HomePod up to outside developers, much as it did the iPhone and, eventually, Apple TV.

So is Apple HomePod a game changer? HomePod is created to provide you the best quality sound for your home.

Shares of Alphabet (GOOGL) (GOOGL), parent of Google, closed up 1% Monday, while shares of Amazon (AMZN) closed up 0.5%.

Apple HomePod will be available starting in December, initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. - potentially to be followed by other countries in 2018. But the product seems directly inspired by existing smart speakers from Amazon and Google.

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