Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

Apple reinvents home music with HomePod

Lucas Bell | 12 June, 2017, 16:07

Apple has confirmed that its HomePod smart speaker will be priced at $349 (£270) when it emerges at the end of 2017. For those concerned about security, Apple says all communications with the HomePod will be encrypted. While he didn't discuss exactly how the devices differ, he told USA Today that the HomePod's $349 price tag makes it substantially more expensive than his company's alternatives, including the popular Amazon Echo.

The HomePod will offer strong audio with an array of seven tweeters, each with its own amplifier, and an upward-facing woofer.

Citing "former executives, close observers, and even devoted customers", the report suggests Apple has fallen behind other voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant due to a continued lack of innovation. This alone places Siri at a tremendous disadvantage since it understands less about each specific user.

This means the HomePod is able to manage sound in real-time as its playing, tweaking the audio as needed.

Apple is known for showmanship, both in its announcements and in the products themselves.

Siri's delayed access to third party apps, and its limited accessibility is also a hindrance for Siri. It can also analyze the music while it's being played through it and automatically adjust volume levels to ensure that there's zero distortion in sound while music is being played. During Jobs' last decade, Apple introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad - all huge commercial successes that both reshaped daily life and swamped previous digital music players, smartphones and tablets. For anyone looking to make their home a little smarter, that choice is a no-brainer.

For example, Apple promises that HomePod will employ Siri voice integration, allowing the device to act as a "home assistant".

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It's powered by an A8 processor that Apple says helps it tap into the cloud and provide the best audio experience in your room.

One of the major highlights of the event was iOS 11, which includes some pretty radical features, such as person-to-person payment from contacts through iMessage. The speakers can communicate with each other wirelessly, so users don't need to link them with wires. The product is an initiative by Apple to expand into the $50 billion wireless smart speaker industry.

Apple's new product is a competitor to Google's Home and Amazon's Echo line of smart speakers, which have taken an early lead in the young product category.

10 of 12What's With the Top Pad? This was showcased by Apple through a VR game demo featuring Darth Vader, a lightsaber and TIE fighter. It'll be available in December, so there's a room of 6 good months before we'll come to know how good it truly is. Despite these technologies now having a better error rate than a human, machine learning is still getting to grips with the multitude of ways we may ask the same question.

Look for the HomePod to go on sale in December for $350. That has caused many to speculate that the company will announce new functions before its release. "Given the price point relative to competitive offerings, we would expect the near-term impact from HomePod to be immaterial", Piper Jaffray's Michael Olson wrote in a note to clients.

Apple is marketing the HomePod as a much higher quality speaker - and it is. Google's Home and Amazon's Echo Dot (and to a lesser extent, the full-sized Echo) are small enough that they can be slipped into corners or placed unobtrusively on tables, counters, and nightstands.

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