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25 January 2018, 12:49 | Deanna Wagner
Apple HomePod available to order Friday, arrives February 9
It's not the first time Apple has been fashionably late with bringing new products to the market, but there is no doubt that their reputation and loyal customers will make it a success. The device is Apple'sanswer to the existing smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.
However, we are yet to see its role in functionality.
So, is it just an Echo clone? While Apple certainly has legions of loyal fans around the globe, many of them have probably already hopped on the voice-assisted speaker bandwagon with a device powered by Amazon or Google. Online reports suggest that the HomePod will not require an Apple Music subscription to stream music from the service; it can also stream purchased iTunesmusic, podcasts, and Beats 1 tracks. Apple has forecast between $84bn and $87bn in revenue for the holiday - mostly driven by sales of its £999 iPhone X.
But in the digital assistant realm, it will be hard for Apple to catch up to the others-specifically Amazon-in terms of skills: As of June 2017, Alexa had 15,069 skills, compared to 378 for Google Assistant and 65 for Microsoft Cortana. Apple is apparently rushing the HomePod into the marketplace since it will not include stereo sound or multi-room audio at launch. When tapped on one of the audio sources like Apple TV, it will allow users to play audio on that particular device controlled by iPhone. HomePod is integral to a range of forthcoming HomeKit-enabled smart home accessories.
Well, it looks quite unthreatening, a kind of all-round speaker thing. It will be available in white and space gray. It stands just 7in tall but apparently packs a bigger punch sonically.
Apple's Siri has a much wider presence by virtue of being featured on more than a billion iPhones and iPads.
The seven beam-forming tweeters provide high-frequency acoustics and there is even directional control, so you can say which way you want the audio to go.
The device works wirelessly and you can manage it easily from your iOS device.
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