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Apple Takes On The Smart Speaker World
27 January 2018, 07:20 | Dawn Berry
Sonos takes aim at Apple by selling two of its speakers for the price of one HomePod
"HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple". The devices should be running on iOS 11.2.5 or later to work with the HomePod. "Sonos One sounds incredible on its own, but the ability to have a stereo pair or have music in two rooms vs. one at $349 U.S. feels like it's an easy choice for those who truly love music", said Joy Howard, chief marketing officer at Sonos.
Standing at seven-inches tall, the HomePod packs a 7 beam-forming tweeter array and a four-inch upward-facing woofer - all powered by the Cupertino company's own A8 chipset.
Amazon can consider itself to be the pioneer here, having been the first company to build a voice assistant into a static home speaker. That is extremely expensive compared to the £89.99 Amazon Echo.
That said, the HomePod is launching with a few significant caveats: It won't be able to pair with a second HomePod and stream multi-room audio, its voice commands do not support any music streaming service besides Apple Music, and Siri is generally seen as inferior to Alexa and Google Assistant for this class of device. At setup, however, the light is simply white, only becoming infused with color once you turn on Siri (you have the option not to if you just want to use the HomePod as a "dumb" AirPlay speaker). "It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalog and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, lovely design that is so much fun to use".
Yes it's been longer coming than intended, but as of yesterday you can now pre-order Apple's music speaker with Siri built-in - the HomePod. E Source observed that the original Google Home speaker used around 2W while idle and 3W while playing at high volume, while the initial Amazon Echo used 2.8W at idle and 7W at high volume. Of course, the HomePod came out on top, though Google and Sonos made it a much closer fight than you might think for an Apple demo.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesThere's also the major, nearly crippling, limitation on the music side: The device can work with any music streaming service as a typical Bluetooth speaker would, but the Siri part - the "smart" part - only works with Apple Music.
Some people only go for Apple when it comes to technology.
Its smart home control capabilities are strong, though.
For marquee products like the iPhone X, which was expected to be in short supply, Apple opened preorders at exactly 12:01 a.m. PT. Well, then the HomePod with its intelligent personal assistant Siri is where it's at.
What's more likely is that Siri will get better over time. Asset manager Boris Schlossberg of FX Strategy advised that Apple is "in trouble" and that they are "making a huge mistake" betting on the high price of the HomePod given the existing market.
We will have much more to say in a full review, but on first impressions while the HomePod looks great, is super simple to set up and is undoubtedly powerful, the sound produced does not immediately match up to its £319 price tag.
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