Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years

Laverne Mann
June 7, 2017

HomePod will take on lower priced Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have had momentum in the arena of voice-controlled speakers capable of controlling smart appliances, fetching content from the internet and more.

Geoff Blaber, VP Research Americas, CCS Insight said: "It is little surprise that Apple has made a decision to launch a smart speaker". The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year. But does HomePod stand a chance against the rivals?

"Out of close to half a billion households in China, at least 150 million households - based on affluence and high annual income - could potentially make up the total addressable market for smart speakers in the country".

Apple is taking on Google Home and the Amazon Echo with its Siri sporting HomePod smart speaker, revealed at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2017. Interestingly, Apple's smart speaker doesn't only respond to your voice but also to your touch. Sounds like, literally, a friend from future. The device has a better display, is faster, and comes with 64GB of memory. By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music will learn user preferences.

Apple also paired up a second HomePod for true stereo separation and the sound there was, er, twice as good. Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600 per cent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 per cent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics.

HomePod uses an Apple-designed upwards firing 102mm woofer and a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters.

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The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released previous year, were the first entrants in a promising market.

When you utter the magic words, LEDs under the top of the speaker glow in the familiar waveform pattern you see on the iPhone. The Cupertino giant has a long reputation for hardware than the other two. At present, an Apple TV or iPad is required to control that equipment from outside the home or automatically.

It is not just the smartness that lets it show off how it can answer questions or inform you about the weather prediction.

But in the midst of all these new bells and whistles, the only new product presented was the HomePod speaker, a Siri-powered device to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. What kind of third-party support will there be for Siri?

John Knoll of Industrial Light & Magic, right, speaks about virtual reality during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017. So, now you can stream Youtube, Netflix, and other services on you home devices by just commanding the Google Home. The HomePod is a compact smart speaker that's capable of doing everything you would possibly expect from a product of its class. It is also compatible with Apple's HomeKit, allowing users to control connected home devices with speech.

Making the most of it will require a subscription to Apple's own music streaming service, which runs $10 to $15 per month and has attracted 27 million subscribers so far. However, the HomePod promises to bring a sleeker, improved version of the voice-command speaker.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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