New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Apple's SVP of Global Marketing Phil Schiller said Sonos aren't smart speakers and Amazon Echos aren't good speakers. If Apple can put more concerted effort into growing its HomeKit ecosystem, it has much greater potential considering the larger installed base. Therefore, no surprise that design excellence is quite visible in this new smart speaker as well.

The HomePod will be available in black and white at launch. In shape and size it's very similar to Mac pro - 7 inches tall, cylindrical and almost similar in diameter as well. So Apple wants to combine the best of both worlds. Siri can still be temperamental, even for native-English speakers and the official HomePod specs now list English as the only supported language. And all communications will be encrypted, meaning authorities can't try to tap home communications.

The "HomePod" speaker unveiled Monday is similar to devices from rivals, some of which have been on the market for years.

The device contains six microphones to pick up voice commands. It has a custom-made woofer and an Apple A8 chip.

A smart speaker must start with a smart processor. Apple says HomePod is "spatially aware" and can respond as such. If you're an Apple Music member, the HomePod can access Apple Music's full catalog, as well as tap into machine learning to learn about your music preferences and suggest songs and artists you might like. According to reviewers at cnet.com, the HomePod boasts the best sound quality, but the Echo has the most functions among the three speakers. 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. Of course, we won't be able to vouch for this until we get to listen to it later this year. So now you can ask Siri to turn on the lights or lock the door without moving a muscle. And no wonder: Many tech watchers view the technology as nothing less than a gateway into people's increasingly connected homes - and into their pocketbooks. Any virtual assistant can do basic tasks like fetch stock prices, provide a weather forecast, or attempt to answer basic questions.

The HomePod is Apple's first smart speaker, combining a loudspeaker capable of filling a room with music with the brains of Siri.

The silver lining is that HomeKit works across a wider range of devices, while Alexa primarily powers just the Echo family. The app is still expected sometime later this summer, though the date is still subject to change.

Apple says it's giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the USA market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home and 5.6 percent for others including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel.

Apple wanted to create a speaker that delivered state-of-the-art sound.

Is it worth waiting until December to buy the Appel HomePod? And when it comes, it'll cost $350.

Apple had plenty of other announcements.

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