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Apple's HomePod enters smart speaker fray

Apple's HomePod enters smart speaker fray”

Using Apple Music with the HomePod means Siri will be able to cater to the user's music taste. The devices should be running on iOS 11.2.5 or later to work with the HomePod.

Finally, Ed Sheeran's Shape Of You is also much better than what has come before with loads of attack - but this tune relies heavily on the high frequencies, so perhaps it's no surprise it sounds so good on the HomePod. HomePod is controlled by Apple's virtual personal assistant Siri, a competitor to the Echo's Alexa.

At $349, the HomePod is one of the more expensive smart speakers; only the $399 Google Home Max costs more.

Apple announced its Siri-powered smart speaker HomePod at its developer conference in June 2017.

Unfortunately, the HomePod does not work with other music streaming platforms except the Cupertino company's own Apple Music service. Apple said that the speaker draws a maximum of 1.76W in idle mode, or about 50 percent less than the latest Energy Star specs require.

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- Apple Music: With a catalogue of 45 million songs, HomePod learns your taste in music from across your devices to give you an eclectic mix whenever you want it. Thanks to Siri, its knowledge of songs, artists and albums is unparalleled so it can also tackle the questions you might want to ask. "We think they will be blown away by the audio quality", according to Philip Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing. Apple previewed this ability for me, and the two HomePods filled a huge room with very clear sound with impressive volume. While Siri has proven to be adept at ordering food, sending messages, and getting directions, it fell behind the other two assistants in our testing when it came to smart home skills, general knowledge, and online shopping, among others. If smart speakers turn into an all-out price war, it's the little guy that will lose.

Apple says that the main thing people do with smart speakers is play music, which is why HomePod is geared so heavily in that direction, followed by lists and reminders, and controlling the smart home. This is a bit of a bummer for families or people with roommates, since there's no way to set up multiple user accounts or tailor the music choices to each individual's Apple Music account. Asking Siri to then play the news then provided a morning digest from the news source of your choosing.

Apple is now taking pre-orders for the HomePod, but there is some confusion as to whether services like Spotify and devices the Apple TV can be used with the speaker.

We will have much more to say in a full review, but on first impressions while the HomePod looks great, is super simple to set up and is undoubtedly powerful, the sound produced does not immediately match up to its £319 price tag.



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