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Apple wants to rock the market with HomePod, faces challenges

Apple wants to rock the market with HomePod, faces challenges

Synced directly with Siri and Apple Music, the powerful speaker will play whatever it is told to play.

The HomePod starts shipping in December and costs $349.

Fortunately, you have plenty of time to make up your mind about the HomePod.

Apple-designed upward-facing woofer, paired with the custom A8 chip, enables bass management through real-time software modeling that ensures the speaker delivers the deepest and cleanest bass possible, with low distortion.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled its long-rumored entry into the smart assistant speaker market on Monday.

"You don't have to know what any of that is", said Schiller.

For example, Apple promises that HomePod will employ Siri voice integration, allowing the device to act as a "home assistant". The upgrade puts Apple's streaming music framework on par with Google's Chromecast for audio, which already supports multiroom audio. Interestingly, Sonos was absent from the list of early speaker partners. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180; Google's Home speaker goes for $130. Like Apple TV, the HomePod allows for remote access to any HomeKit compatible device through the Home app. Year-over-year, the number of USA consumers using voice-activated assistant devices is up 128.9%, according to eMarketer.

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What Does All This Mean?

The HomePod's main weapon is sound quality. Inside is an array of seven beam-forming tweeter speakers and a larger subwoofer. Dieter Bohn at The Verge says Homepod is "the smartest speaker yet". The Google Home lets you set either of those music services as your default, while the Echo lets you choose from Amazon Music and Spotify. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for developing virtual-reality "experiences", although the company didn't announce any consumer VR products. And now with HomePod, Apple has a true voice assistant to bring into the home. Toni Sacconaghi says the HomePod is a cross between Sonos Play 1 and Amazon Echo.

Asked about Amazon potentially introducing with its own premium-tier Echo speaker, Limp didn't sound too keen on the idea.

Shoppers should also take note that while Amazon and Google are known to regularly roll out discounted promotions on its devices-the Echo was going for $130 for Amazon Prime Day last summer-Apple introduces discounts rarely, and pretty much never for brand-new products. As for the Echo, it comes in variations ranging from the budget-level Echo Dot to the upcoming higher-end Echo Show, which will feature a touchscreen for displaying information.

And HomePod can do that - some of the time, and only with Apple services. Imagine pairing a well-done augmented reality app with a voice assistant capability in the home, and you might have something pretty cool. Simple: Apple and Amazon don't really get along in the VOD space, as they're both competing with one another - though I'd wager Amazon does a lot better.

"Apple justified the price by positioning HomePod as a high-end speaker rather than a virtual assistant, which is smart", she said.

Apple is also adding support for right-to-left languages, while there are also new features to give developers more options when designing buttons and the ability to blur the entire screen.

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