HomePod: New Intelligent Home Speakers From Apple

HomePod is the new wireless speaker from Apple. Microsoft is also teaming up with firms such as Harmon Kardon on speakers that run its Cortana assistant.

The company details that it uses spatial awareness to work out its location and automatically adjust the audio depending on where it is in the room.

Secondly, it suffers from the same compatibility issues as any other Apple product: it only plays Apple Music.

In a statement, Apple said the HomePod is "a breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers incredible audio quality and uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio". But the product seems directly inspired by existing smart speakers from Amazon and Google. Both Google and Amazon's voice control systems record a few seconds before and after you call on them - and save those recordings online until you delete them. With Apple pricing the HomePod for $349, it's a tough sell compared to the $179 Amazon Echo or the $129 Google Home.

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The Echo now only runs Alexa, Amazon's smart voice assistant.

The Cupertino, California-based company said Siri, which also competes with Alphabet Inc's Google Assistant, will now work across devices. Until Apple improves Siri to the point it can be in the same playing field as Alexa and Google Assistant, the HomePod is just a very nice but expensive $350 speaker. And prospective buyers will have to be content with the white and Space Grey colour options once the HomePod is released in December. More countries will be added later on.

The two speakers also have other functionalities aside from playing music.

What are the privacy concerns? Once the devices hear a wake word or phrase, they start recording and send your voice to the cloud to complete the request. However, experts believe that Google, which was a late entrant in the market, may be able to cut into Amazon's lead due to its strong artificial intelligence platform. "People's tastes in speakers are unbelievably personal", he says. Because the devices understand your natural way of speaking, smart speakers are less complicated to operate than other gadgets, making it an easy-to-use tool for seniors. The industry is betting this will be the future of how we interact with computers.

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