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HomePod: Features, release date and everything we know about Apple's smart speaker

HomePod: Features, release date and everything we know about Apple's smart speaker

We got to compare it to a bunch of other smart speakers at the same volume. But nobody heard anything more about the HomePod until late November when Apple announced that the timing had slipped and that HomePod wouldn't come until after the holidays.

Siri, as we all know, is not good. You can't ask Siri to read you your appointments or make an event. You're going to use more power if you crank it up, of course, but you probably won't cringe at your electricity bill if you stream music all day. I have a PC for gaming, which runs Windows 10, and game consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. I pay for Amazon Prime, and Spotify, and Netflix.

Overall, HomePod is both louder and better-sounding than I expected. Siri is definitely a big part of HomePod, but it's mostly there to facilitate your music experience, able to respond to granular commands about songs, playlists, and the like, as well as natural ones like, "Siri, turn it up". It continuously listens to the music that's playing and dynamically adjusts the sound, with the aim of playing everything as transparently as possible - Apple says it's "studio-level" dynamic processing. Don't maintain your calendar, mail, maps, and everything else through Apple's version of that service? That's not as seamless as with Alexa or Google, which let you initiate calls using a smart speaker just by voice. As of now, the Apple Store does not detail any accessories related to the HomePod speaker.

Sonos was slow to integrate voice controls into its speakers, finally releasing t. The only way to use them - if they're supported, that is - is through manual input.

So now the battle begins as the market decides what it wants more in a smart speaker device.

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Perhaps more worrying is the fact that Siri, in general, is pretty awful at its intended function: hearing human speech and translating it into actions. Once you've zipped through Apple's questions, you're just left waiting for setup to complete.

The Apple HomePod is available to pre-order from today and it launches next month, the device costs $349 and now Sonos is countering Apple's device with a special offer on its Sonos One speakers. They also cost much less.

There is no word on the HomePod's availability in the Indian market as of now.

Maybe Apple will add support for more third-party services, like Spotify and Uber.

Having spent a bit more time with the HomePod, it's clear Apple's hoping its focus on high-quality audio will be enough to tempt prospective smart speaker customers away from its cheaper rivals. "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 United States feels like it's an easy choice for those who truly love music", said Joy Howard, chief marketing officer at Sonos.

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