It is finally here. On the 23rd of January, Apple announced the release date for the HomePod, around 8 months after its original debut. For Apple users, those who missed out on a Christmas smart speaker, or just avid Apple fans, this might be great news, but it is hard to get too excited about a fairly old concept within technology.
Sonos has dominated the speaker market with its high-quality sound, however, due to its spotty Alexa capabilities, the HomePod could overtake the market leader. Marketed as speaker-first, the HomePod boasts ‘Advanced Audio Technologies’ and an ‘Incredible Music Listening Experience.’ Using beam-forming tweeters and high-excursion woofer paired with intelligent automatic spatial awareness, the adaptive sound ensures the greatest listening experience wherever the speaker is placed. This could give the HomePod a competitive edge over rivals, Amazon Echo and Google Home, whose speaker systems leave a lot to be desired.
The only direct rival to the HomePod is Google’s Google Home Max. The impressive sound, sleek design and Google Assistant capabilities make the winning qualities of the smart speaker very similar. However, Google may have thrown Apple a lifeline as the Google Home Max is currently only available in the US and it has hefty $399 price tag.
HomePod users, however, will be able to call and message their contacts through the smart speaker, much easier than its competitors. Google Home messaging features are not that simple to use and messaging using Alexa is only available to other Alexa users. However, the functionality of both Alexa and Google Assistant are far greater than that of Siri due to third-party integrations.
Whilst Siri’s practical uses, like messaging and notes, appear to be simple to use and easy to integrate with your existing Apple devices, so far, the HomePod seems to miss out all the fun features found on Amazon and Google devices, like Alexa’s ability to play musical chairs.
Obviously, Apple Music will work impeccably with the HomePod. The AI integration allows Siri to learn about your music date and adapt your playlists and recommendations accordingly. But, considering Spotify listeners have been enjoying the use of the playlist radio feature and Spotify-curated Daily Mix’s, this feature seems less impressive than the surrounding hype suggests.
Apple has not yet announced whether the smart speaker will work with alternative streaming platforms like Spotify or Tidal, which may seclude a lot of users.
In the near future, the smart speaker may play an integral part in your home due to the increasing capabilities and rapid development of smart home products. The CES conference gave us a glimpse into our future homes and with the evolvement of cloud and cognitive computing, smart speakers may soon be the hub of your home. The need for rapid development of artificial intelligence is crucial to support smart initiatives and revolutionise the way that we live.
Those interested in purchasing Apple’s HomePod will be able to order the smart speaker tomorrow (Friday 26th January) with shipping beginning on February 9th.
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