HomePod First Look: Hey Siri, What Took You So Long?

HomePod First Look: Hey Siri, What Took You So Long?

The new iPad Pro is displayed during the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. "You can even be sat across the room when loud music is playing". Called out by name in the WWDC 2017 presentation were Sonos and the Amazon Echo. That argument implies that the Echo's sound quality is rather poor, even if it's connected and smart. In fact, during the announcement, the whole "smart" part of the "smart speaker" didn't warrant mention until near the end. But with an end of year launch date, Apple has some catching up to do.

With consumers less interested in buying new tablets, Apple has increased its focus on designing tablets for professionals to do much of the same work that they usually perform on a laptop computer.

Not only will Apple offer new male and female voices, but Apple says using the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, their voices will be more natural and expressive, adjust intonation, pitch, emphasis and tempo while speaking and can translate English words and phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish. Even in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia, that would appear to be later than would be ideal to catch the important holiday season. In that way, it's like a very big AirPod. The speaker can automatically tune the audio depending on the space you are in. It will send out a 360 beam of sound, seeing if there are any surfaces nearby, and if it finds it's on a shelf or a bookcase will use the wall behind to reflect a different level of sound.

The moves announced Monday escalate Apple's technological battle of wits with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

But how do they sound compared to one another? They're also adding new photo effects, such as long exposure. The Amazon Echo Dot is $49.99, the Echo is $179.99, and the Echo Show is $229.99.

Next up was Norah Jones with Sunrise, a more vocal-powered track, and walking around the room the HomePod delivered well-radiated sound. It's definitely an aesthetic that feels more home-friendly.

Or if someone texts you about owing money, it will ask if you want to pay using Apple Pay. HomePod does not enable the range of some 12,000 tasks of Alexa or the range of queries Google supports.

But it's more than just a loud wireless speaker. The rumor mill had the "Siri Speaker" outfitted with an actual screen-and this light sure isn't that.

Beyond the hardware and price, the real competition will ultimately boil down to how powerful each product's respective virtual assistants are, which also has implications beyond just this product category.

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Cook and other Apple executives showed off several additional new Siri functions, highlighting how the company has been working to catch up with similar offerings from Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the U.S. market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home and 5.6 percent for others including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel. "We should expect to see a larger AR ecosystem develop around software and products to provide enhanced capabilities to the Apple AR features".

With Apple Music integration, the smart speaker has 40 million songs on tap.

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.

HomePod is expensive. Image source: Apple.

The other thing to know is that Apple is doing something interesting with those seven tweeters.

Apple is taking aim at Amazon's Echo.

Alphabet Inc. followed with Google Home, a speaker introduced past year.