Apple aims to 'reinvent home music' with HomePod smart speaker

Music playback is what matters to most consumers more right now than the speaker's ability to tell why dinosaurs died. But who knows - in the months leading up to its December release, maybe Apple has a surprise for all of us.

Amazon and Google both have their policies for dealing with demands for data on the Echo and the Home. Until Apple improves Siri to the point it can be in the same playing field as Alexa and Google Assistant, the HomePod is just a very nice but expensive $350 speaker. The speakers can communicate with each other wirelessly, so users don't need to link them with wires.

Beyond this, the WSJ reports that Apple was "caught off guard" by the Amazon Echo (as was Google).

Third-party devices such as Lenovo's Smart Assistant also use Amazon's Alexa assistant.

Google Home, the smart speaker with Google Assistant built in, becomes officially available and supported in Canada on June 26, for $179. If you have HomeKit enabled devices, you can use Siri to control them as well.

Imagine instead that as you walk into a room you could say "Hello room!" The speaker will be powered by virtual assistant Siri. (Many reviewers have suggested that the current incarnation of Apple's assistant already trails competitors in key respects.) "This is the start of the AI wars", he said. At least, that's something one Amazon executive just indicated he would "hope" to see in the future.

On stage, surface detection and other SLAM/computer vision capabilities were demonstrated using Pokemon Go as an example.

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Both Apple and Google have technological expertise which can allow their intelligent home speakers to compete strongly with Amazon.

A smart speaker is primarily used to stream music and news, set timers and reminders, manage shopping lists, and control connected-home devices like lights or thermostats. The Amazon Echo and Google Home are under $200, but Apple folks argue that the higher price tag is worth it. Amazon's (AMZN) record-breaking Echo speaker, which it can't make fast enough, and Google's (GOOGL) Home speaker were top dogs in a new category.

When it comes to smart-home speakers, the first names that come to our minds immediately are Google Home and Amazon Echo.

That makes Apple's smart home play a bit more distant than it initially seemed.

The Google Home (left) and the Amazon Echo are required to be tied to your account. "From our standpoint, it's a little different philosophically from how we're looking at Echo". You're also going to have to pay a price for that quality - it retails for $349 (UK price to be announced, but it'll probably be close to a straight dollar-to-pound conversion). For instance, Tool North America, an agency that specializes in artificial intelligence and internet of things technology, is interested in even understanding people's moods based on how they sound talking to home devices. Their consistent software updates and product performance hooks the buyer every time, so why wouldn't you want to know about the latest upgrades coming to your favorite gadget?

Data for the Google Home is encrypted in-transit and at rest, which means that it's protected as it heads to Google's servers and encoded again where it's stored.

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