Apple Downplays Echo Rivalry with its Audio-Focused HomePod Speakers

New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

The HomePod is the new digital speaker that will come loaded with Siri, similar to Amazon's Echo and Google Home which packs Alexa and Google Assistant respectively.

Apple has announced the HomePod, a breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers fantastic audio quality and uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio. But while supposedly superior sound is all well and good, at $349 HomePod will cost around twice what you'd pay for an Amazon Echo ($179), and about three times the price of Google Home ($109 at a slight discount). Echo has become a surprise hit since Amazon released it almost three years ago. We do a comparison of features to find out!

Tech Crunch's review of the HomePod indicates that it lags behind Amazon Echo in smart voice integration and Apple still has much work to do to get create real value out of Siri and HomePod.

Notes is also getting a built-in scanner, meaning users will now be able to scan printed documents, import them into Notes, and then add their signatures or other handwritten content. They simply use voice recognition to understand the query and respond to them by fetching information or data from the internet or connected local devices. Though each one works smart and apt, Google Home is an inch ahead because of Google's own enhanced search results. However, with far-field listening capabilities and integrated Siri, the HomePod instantly surpasses Apple TV to become Apple's most capable smart home hub.

Streaming - Both Google Home and Echo supports direct Bluetooth Streaming and on-device Wi-Fi streaming (Plus, Chromecast streaming for Google Home). Sure, the HomePod has built-in Siri, but Apple messaged this as a revolutionary multi-room speaker first and a virtual assistant second. One issue here is whether the HomePod will play nice with other music streaming services like Spotify.

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"Apple's base should like it, because they are committed to the ecosystem", Enderle said of HomePod. So if you go for an Apple HomePod, you will need to first have HomeKit enabled accessories. Competitor Google's home assistant achieved a 10% market share.

Both Amazon Echo and Google Home has ambient LED notification lights atop, which will give you a lighting up for some quick flicker. Apple also laid some groundwork for augmented reality, the projection of digital features onto real-world surroundings, by giving app developers tools for incorporating AR into their products.

HomePod is a pill shaped home speaker that is more than just a speaker, with an A8 chip and 7 beam-forming tweeters along with a thick 4inch woofer, which delivers a powerful yet clean bass without distortion. With HomeKit and a new rev of the Home app for iOS, I think Apple may finally have what it needs with the HomeKit-HomePod combo to deliver on the early promise that had so many excited about HomeKit.

Given it's price and features ( or lack of it), it seems very hard for HomePod to challenge Google Home or Amazon Echo.

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

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