Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Is Apple's new HomePod a true Sonos competitor?

If the speculation pans out, the speaker would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015.

The company's App Store has undergone a design overhaul as well, with an updated user interface that incorporates new Today, Games and Apps tabs, and original content including stories, interviews and tips. Apple says that the speaker can adapt to the environment in which it is placed, playing music in all directions when placed in the center of a room while directing sound to the away from walls if placed in a corner.

The HomePod features Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with incredible directional control and powerful technologies built right in to preserve the richness and intent of the original recordings.

The speakers, driven by artificial intelligence and voice-enabled assistants have become a leading trend in the tech industry and Alexa now boasts support for more than 10,000 apps.

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HomePod will initially be available from December in the UK, US and Australia.

Apple is reacting to the popularity of Amazon's Echo smart speaker with a Siri-based competitor. Google and Amazon have been saturating the market for a while now and figuring out the whole home assistant niche.

While Siri would respond well to your voice commands, the control is not only with it. Apple packed in a ton of power performance into a tiny seven-inch (6.8 if we're being nitpicky) speaker. It's a relatively young hardware category made popular by the Amazon Echo.

"If we are comparing this to Apple's past successes, it doesn't fit that model", said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. 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.

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That leaves Apple. Although it was the first smartphone maker to come out with a digital assistant when Siri debuted in 2011, it hasn't had a stand-alone assistant. You could play out that same scenario for a wide variety of music services, including Spotify Amazon's own music service. "That tells me that Apple believes that the iPad is the future form factor for mobile computing". But I'm going to focus on just one here: what you can do with it. With HomePod, only after "Hey Siri" is recognized locally on the device will any information be sent to Apple servers, encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier.As CNet points out, this also means that Apple's HomeKit software now has its own standalone device, meaning that it could attract Android users and others who previously did not want to use Siri through an iPhone or iPad. The device is compatible with iPhone 5s and later, running iOS 11.

Apple also used its annual developer meeting in San Jose, California - its largest ever with some 5,000 people attending - to offer hints about so-called augmented reality technology.

At the start of its conference, the Cupertino company announced an upcoming Apple TV update will add the one feature you've been waiting years for.

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