Is The Apple HomePod an Alexa Killer?
That title conjures up images of two smart speakers silently stalking each other, maybe while politely using their natural voices to call out taunting threats. In reality, it's market pressure that's forcing Apple to address the Alexa threat. Currently interred within the Echo smart speaker range and a host of other smart gadgets, Alexa is enjoying something of a smart assistant monopoly, although Google Home and a few other select AI (Artificial Intelligence) companions are playing catch-up. That's te point, though, isn't it? Alexa has the lead, and it looks like that gap is widening. Interestingly, the Apple HomePod could easily leapfrog the competition, especially if Siri has the legs to pass Alexa.
Anyway, enough with the running metaphors, you're all about the facts, not the colourful language. As to how you'll clarify those facts, it's hard to say. The HomePod is still a vaporous product, which means it isn't on the shelves just yet. Available at the end of 2017, hopefully in time for the holidays, the following guide comes courtesy of the developer conference. Surprisingly, however, Apple marketers have decided to cruelly tantalise our purchasing senses by putting up a product page, one you can find at this Apple HomePod link. Like Amazon's Echo series, this smart wireless speaker is equipped with an impressive list of features.
There's an array of far-field microphones inside the rounded 6.8-inch tall housing. As you'd expect, that housing is designed with minimalism in mind, although the perforated meshing does add a certain amount of texture to the exterior surface. On the inside, Apple's much-vaunted A8 processor threads instructions to a series of technically superior inner workings. In the middle of that package of electronics, the microphone array listens for commands. Above that, there's a subwoofer, then, down below, a seven tweeter speaker ring loops around the base.
You can only imagine more features unfolding as the release date approaches. Your Christmas shopping budget may just have to make room for the $349 home assistant. Wrapped in a Siri-powered smart speaker that's expected to deliver HiFi audio, Apple's device may just be enough to topple Alexa from the smart assistant throne. Additionally, Apple's music catalogue is every bit as comprehensive as Amazon's, plus Siri is arguably the more mature voice-activated companion. If you were to play the prediction game, which we all do, you'd imagine a three-way tie. Amazon and Alexa race ahead during the shopping stage of the race, Google and Google Home take the lead as we speed around the smart home gadget curve, and then Apple's HomePod comes from nowhere when music and speaker quality enter the final leg.
Still, having said all that, Siri may have a surprise or two in store for the competition, especially since many homes are opting for Apple's Home kit platform, a smart home solution that pairs easily with any and all iPhones and iPods.