Published: Tue, June 06, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Apple HomePod Speaker Debuts, But Is It Too Late?


HomePod includes Siri voice integration and will function as a "home assistant", according to Schiller. With Siri most widely used on iPhone, Apple risked missing out on the daily, at-home tasks consumers increasingly use Echo or Home for - reminders, calendars, music.

HomePod wants to be the best of both worlds, without being that much more expensive than some of its key competitors: The Apple-made speaker will cost consumers $349, and ship in December in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar nearly an after thought.

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When the data does get sent, anonymization and encryption means your voice commands aren't tied to your Apple ID, and even the company isn't able to clearly view it. Just by uttering, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the "musicologist", recognising preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across various playlists, and shares them across devices.

Amazon introduced the Echo speaker, featuring its Alexa assistant, in 2015.

According to the Reddit user, the Apple Iris will consist of "Kopin NED Acetate frame Polarisized or prescription lens with Zeiss smart optics, Bone conduction modules Microphones (noise cancellation), Light sensor Accelerometer for step tracking and head movement app navigation, Magnetometer for navigation, Capacitive Pavel Ceramic battery, Apple chipset, [and] Charging circuit BL5 Induction module". 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.

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Apple had plenty of other announcements.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released a year ago, were the first entrants in a promising market. New iMacs released Monday are getting better displays and graphics capabilities. It will block videos that start playing automatically, for instance, and can also prevent ads from following and profiling users.

Apple also released a software kit so developers could infuse augmented reality into applications for iPhones or iPads. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

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Ortutay reported from NY.

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