Apple's answer to the Amazon Echo has a critical flaw

Apple's answer to the Amazon Echo has a critical flaw

Now, more tech companies are rushing out their own versions of the device. You're supposed to be able to just speak to them and get instant results - no phone required.

"It's the biggest brain inside a speaker", Apple marketing head Phil Schiller proclaimed.

HomePod is created to be the user's personal "musicologist", says Apple, learning personal preferences and tastes based on genres, moods and playlists. This new breed of speaker presents a tantalizing future powered by voice, where computing is not tied to a screen.

As a home assistant, the HomePod is a great way to send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades or activate a scene.

What is it used for?

It would have been easy for Apple to look to the Amazon Echo or Google Home for design cues for HomePod.

By comparison, the Amazon Echo is a taller speaker at 9.25-inches. He'll argue that integration with FaceTime and iMessage makes it the best home communicator on the market.

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Apple has chose to go for the high end of the market, and is positioning HomePod more as a luxury speaker than a hands-free assistant.

Apple has confirmed that its HomePod smart speaker will be priced at $349 (£270) when it emerges at the end of 2017. It's a premium device - both with regard to build quality and performance, as well as price at $350. When it hits the market in December, HomePod will give Apple a high-end competitor to Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Echo and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Home.

That ring on the Echo can also be twisted, to adjust volume levels.

Apple's forays into AI have also been slower than its peers because it's been reluctant to embrace the data-mining practices of rivals Google and Facebook, experts said.

Echo already has strong rivalry too, in the form of Google's Home speaker, which is also growing fast in popularity. The device can sense its position in a room and optimize audio playback for any location. On a practical note, all of them work nearly the same way. At WWDC, Apple announced the speaker category for HomeKit, so other speaker makers could more tightly integrate with iOS. The only streaming music platform that it's officially supporting is Apple Music. It's now the leader in this area with more than 10,000 third-party voice apps called "skills". So far, the Amazon Echo and Google Home have been marketed mostly at tech savvy adults.

It's unclear if the HomePod will work with third-party services right away. Whether singly or in a pair with AirPlay 2 for serious stereo sound, indoors or out, and utilizing only your voice and the data collected and processed by the A8 chip, HomePod instantaneously modifies the sound being projected, and can, through the aid of an algorithm that determines time, space, volume and frequency, upmix direct and ambient sound to affect the most flawless, acoustically defined music you may have ever heard. Siri will learn tastes and offer songs based on what you should like, but that's likely limited to Apple Music only. "It's like cars. What you like in terms of the bass response, someone else may hate because they listen to classical music and focus on the treble".

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