HomePod: Features, price and everything you need to know about Apple’s smart speaker

Six months after it was revealed, the long wait for the release of Apple's HomePod smart speaker is over. Announced last June, Apple's first smart speaker has finally been released. The HomePod speaker will provide a wireless audio experience with voice control from Siri. With the HomePod, Apple is promising not only a premium sound experience, but also the kind of voice-control that will throw down the gauntlet to Amazon's cheaper Echo series. The speaker will work with Apple Music and features are set to include smart home integration, voice messaging and, ultimately, multi-room audio. You can read the Telegraph's full review of the HomePod here, for everything else, read on. HomePod release date The HomePod went on sale on Friday, 9 February from the Apple Store in the UK. Currently, deliveries area expected to arrive from 13 February. Other parts of Europe will have to wait until spring to order. Apple: Apple HomePod available to buy here John Lewis: HomePod available to buy here Argos: HomePod available to buy here Currys: HomePod available to buy here Apple fans have had to wait some time for the HomePod. It was first announced in June at Apple's WWDC developers conference but then went quiet. Rumours of a delay were proved true in November, when Apple pushed back its release date from December into the new year. Price and availability The HomePod is going to cost £319, or $349 in the US, when it goes on sale. When it arrives in the UK, sellers will include the Apple Store, Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis, Very and Littlewoods. It is available to pre-order from EEfeatures The HomePod is Apple's challenge to Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo series and Google's Home speakers. Amazon has sought to establish itself as the market leader in smart speakers, with its Echo and Echo Dot models dominating smart speaker sales for the last two years. Apple's HomePod is thought to have been in the works for several years, but it is only Continue Reading

Apple’s HomePod enters a crowded field of smart home speakers

Every time you move the HomePod, it'll realize the change and make the proper adjustments. The sound from the HomePod is very full and a bit heavy on the bass for my taste. There are no treble/bass adjustments available. Musicologist There is a feature called Musicologist that uses Siri's intelligence and data from Apple Music to learn your preferences and play music that you'll enjoy. Apple keeps track of what you choose to play to learn your tastes. During playback you can say, "Hey Siri, I like this" to give a song a verbal thumbs-up. After a few weeks of gathering your listening data, asking Siri to play some music will likely result in her playing music you like. Smart home The HomePod is also an Apple HomeKit hub. You can set up and voice-control HomeKit devices. You add the devices and interact with them using Apple's Home app on your iPhone or iPad. You also use the Home app to interact with the HomePod to change any of its settings. When you connect HomeKit-compatible devices like a thermostat or connected bulbs, you can turn them on or off with your voice. Siri Pretty much anything you can do with Siri on your phone, you can also do from HomePod. You can listen to podcasts and news, set alarms and timers, get stock quotes and sports scores, find local weather and traffic updates, and ask Siri general questions. If you have Personal Requests enabled, you can interact with messages and reminders. There are some things you can't do, such as setting up calendar events. You can also use HomePod as a speakerphone. You start the call on your iPhone and then transfer it to the HomePod with the phone's audio source selector on the phone's call screen. Privacy As with any connected speaker, there may be some worry about personal privacy. I meet people all the time who think Alexa is recording everything they say. Continue Reading

Spotify Removes Built-In App Support For Older Home Speakers, Receivers

Spotify has begun removing native music streaming support for a number of home audio speakers and receivers. The company has revealed that some of these devices will completely lose this functionality, while others will require firmware updates in order to work once again. The biggest reason why a lot of people use Spotify is because of how widely available it’s music streaming service is. Almost every single device that’s available today will allow users to install the Spotify app. This includes Android phones, smartphones, the Google Home speakers and the Amazon Fire TV. There’s also a web player for those who are using Chromebooks, as pointed out by Android Central. There are also other home speakers and receivers that can stream Spotify music and playlists without connected smartphones. This functionality has been around for some time now, but it looks like Spotify is removing this functionality to a large number of devices. Spotify has updated its support page to inform users that it’s removing the built-in Spotify app from speakers and sound systems from the likes of Bang & Olufsen, Logitech, Onkyo, Pioneer and Yamaha. The full list of affected speakers is available to view here. But why is Spotify removing the built-in apps from these devices? Apparently, the music streaming service is preparing new Spotify Connect features which is why it dropped support for older generation speakers and receivers. “We updated our backend platform, so that means Spotify Connect is no longer integrated into some older generation speakers and TVs. In some cases, manufacturers can update their firmware to be compatible with the new platform,” Spotify told The Verge. Some of the older speakers, like the B&O BeoSound 5 and the Logitech Squeezebox, can still support Spotify streaming by connecting a smartphone via Bluetooth. While other speakers from Yamaha, Marantz and Denon will have to get their firmware updated if users want to Continue Reading

HomePod Vs Google Home Vs Amazon Echo: The Best Smart Home Speaker Is?

Apple is set to release the HomePod soon, which will have to compete with other rival speaker devices already on the market. With the release of the HomePod, customers will have to choose between the $349 device or other much cheaper options, like the Echo device family and Google Home. Here’s how the devices compare. HomePod Vs. Google Home Vs. Amazon Echo: Features Amazon Echo The second-generation Echo is powered by Alexa and is compatible with the Alexa app on iOS and Android devices. The device supports messaging and voice calling. The Echo also has far-field recognition, which means it can detect questions in noisy environments. The speaker uses tens of thousands of Alexa skills, with more skills added over time. The Echo also works well for Prime customers. Users can stream music through Prime Music, listen to audiobooks and shop on Amazon. The device can also control smart home products compatible with Alexa. Google Home The Google Home is powered by the Google Assistant. The device can answer questions, play songs, control smart home appliances and help with the users’ schedules and set up reminders. The Google Home also supports voice calls and allows users to shop with the speaker. The device comes with Voice Match, which personalizes Google Assistant information based on which person in the household asks the question. Apple HomePod The HomePod is powered by Siri. The virtual assistant can help users send messages, set timers, play music or podcasts, get news briefs and check sports, traffic and weather updates. The device also lets users control HomeKit smart home accessories. The speaker includes Apple’s A8 chip, which is found in the iPhone 6. Apple’s smart speaker also knows where in the room it has been placed and will be able to sense when another HomePod has been added. The Apple HomePod powered by Siri. Photo: Apple HomePod Vs. Google Home Vs. Amazon Echo: Sound Amazon Echo The Amazon Echo comes with Continue Reading

Live: Google unveils Pixel smartphone, Home details

Long known as a software giant, Google used its San Francisco media event on Tuesday to make a major push into hardware.Most notably, Google unveiled the sleek Pixel smartphone, a clear rival to Apple and its iPhone. The device is available for pre-order Tuesday, and starts at $649. Google also revealed new details on its Echo-like speaker Google Home, which launches for $129 this November.For a breakdown of Tuesday's event, scroll for our live updates:1:25 p.m.: So far, we have a new smartphone, smart speaker, Wi-Fi networking device, Chromecast and VR headset. That's a pretty big lineup. Particularly with Pixel, Google is going after Apple in the smartphone market. The live event is over. Thanks for joining us.1:20 p.m.: A new service called Actions on Google will let developers easily build features for Home. It focuses on Direct actions and Conversational actions. Direct actions focus on simple requests, which Conversational requires extra dialogue, such as requesting a ride from Uber.1:16 p.m.: Google Home will be available for $129, and include YouTube Red free for six months. It will be available in stores on November 4.1:15 p.m.: Chromecast Audio plugged into your TV will work with Home to control your TV and speakers. Televisions from companies including Sony and LG will support this.1:13 p.m.: Chandra says Netflix will soon work with Home, where users can issue voice commands like watching their favorite show or movie on their TV.1:11 p.m.: Google partnered with Nest, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and Philips to support smart home devices, controlled through Home.1:09 p.m.: Home offers a daily briefing for users, including traffic alerts, reminders and more. A really cool function. It also works great in the kitchen, preparing shopping lists and setting multiple timers.1:06 p.m.: Chandra moves to seeking answers, where Assistant can seek out the best answer to questions not directly available through Google, such as Wikipedia. Although this is a demo, Continue Reading

Google Home review: In catch-up to Echo, but with promise

Ask Google Assistant inside Google Home what it thinks of Amazon Echo's Alexa and you get a gracious reply: “I like Alexa’s blue lights. Her voice is nice too.”(Alexa offers no opinion of the Google Assistant.)Civility aside, the standalone $129 Home speaker that becomes available Friday is Google’s answer to the $179.99 Echo speaker, and a potentially strong answer at that, though Google is still in catchup mode and too often answered my voice queries with a “sorry I don’t know how to help with that yet.”Echo was better at answering questions on who was expected to win the presidential election and who won the World Series and guessing a song you're looking for. Google Home had the edge with some features, like "tell me about my day."Still, the competition between the two cloud-based, artificial intelligence-infused, voice-activated digital assistants is only likely to heat up—and promises to get even better.Gartner recently projected that the global market for wireless speakers enabled by personal assistants will reach $2.1 billion by 2020, up from $360 million last year. OK, GoogleYou summon the Google Assistant on Google Home, with a familiar “OK Google” verbal command, since the only physical button on Home mutes the microphone. Google Home stands roughly half as tall as the cylindrical-shaped Echo and you can change its aesthetic by replacing its base with one of a different color or texture. Indeed, Google Home is meant to be shown off in the home. It slopes down at the top, where you’ll find a capacitive touch surface and hidden LED lights that come alive when you issue a verbal command or Home is responding to your request. This is similar to the lights that ring the top of Echo.You can slide your finger on this touch surface to change the volume on Home, but as with Echo it is much easier to do so via voice (e.g. “OK Google, set volume to 50%.”)Home and Echo each Continue Reading

Alexa, what’s the most popular voice-enabled speaker?

It appears a lot more Americans are getting acquainted with Alexa.The number of Americans using voice-enabled speakers like Amazon Echo at least once a month more than doubled from last year, says a forecast from research firm eMarketer.More than one-quarter of smartphone owners in the U.S., 60.5 million Americans, will use a virtual assistant like Alexa, Apple's Siri, or Microsoft's Cortana at least once a month."Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology, which is driving engagement," said Martín Utreras, eMarketer's vice president of forecasting, in a statement.  "Also, as prices decrease and functionality increases, consumers are finding more reasons to increase adoption of these devices."Millennials are driving interest in voice assistants, with more than one-third of them using the technology this year, says eMarketer.The Echo, which supports Amazon's Alexa digital voice assistant, is the clear frontrunner in the space, commanding a 70% share of the speaker market. Nearly 24% of the market is owned by Google's Home speaker, which runs its own branded Assistant. However, Google's share is expected to grow over the next several years.Digital voice assistants are viewed as the next frontier for tech companies. Recently, Samsung unveiled its own digital assistant, Bixby, which rolled out with the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly working on its own home speaker to support Siri. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23. Continue Reading

Apple’s Siri speaker to challenge Google, Amazon

SAN FRANCISCO — OK Google. Listen up, Alexa. Siri may soon have a say in the future of smart speakers.Amazon's sleeper hit Echo and its challenger Google Home have claimed spots on countertops and nightstands across America. More and more people can't stop talking to these voice-activated, artificially intelligent devices. And that poses a competitive threat to Apple. Without a speaker device of its own, the iPhone maker could see its relationship with loyal users begin to fray.Apple is expected to unveil a Siri-controlled speaker, and it could take the wraps off as soon as Monday when the company kicks off its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose. Even though it's late to the smart-speaker craze, Apple's beloved brand and fan base could help it grab a sizable chunk of the growing market, analysts say.Just ask consumers like Mike Julianelle, who's already ready to trade in his Amazon Echo for one.The 40-year-old blogger from Brooklyn says he got the Echo as a gift from his wife a year ago and uses it to check the weather or to ask random questions. On weekend mornings, he plays the Beatles or the Hamilton soundtrack for his 6-year-old.But Julianelle says his is an Apple family with a big collection of iPhones, iPads and iPods. Most of his music library is on iTunes. The Echo and Google Home mostly don't support services from Apple, and that's frustrating, he says.He believes an Apple smart speaker, with high-end sound quality and easy integration with other Apple devices and services such as Apple Music, will develop an instant following with people like him."People love Amazon, sure, but mostly for what it does, not what it is. I know people who will pounce on anything Apple puts out," says Julianelle, who blogs at DadAndBuried.com. "They're totally in the tank for the brand in a way few other tech brands can manage."Analysts say voice is the biggest shift in how we interact with devices since Continue Reading

Report: Apple may reveal a Siri speaker next week

Amazon's Echo and Google's Home smart speakers may soon need to make way for a new challenger: Apple.According to Bloomberg, citing "people familiar with the matter,"  Apple is working on a smart speaker supporting digital voice assistant Siri. The company could unveil the speaker as soon as next week, when they kick off the annual Worldwide Developers Conference.The big differences between Apple's speaker and its competitors: virtual surround sound and deeper integration with Apple services, says the report.Apple declined to comment on the report.Amazon Echo has raced to the front of the smart speaker market with multiple devices such as the smaller Echo Dot and the recently-unveiled Echo Show, which sports a touchscreen. Research firm eMarketer says Amazon boasts a 70% share of the market, followed by Google Home at 24%.Meanwhile, consumers' use of digital voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant is surging. According to eMarketer, the number of Americans using voice-enabled speakers like Echo at least once a month more than doubled from last year. Also, more than a quarter of smartphone owners will use a voice assistant at least once a month. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23. Continue Reading

Live: Apple unveils $349 smart speaker HomePod

Hey Siri, ready to meet the HomePod?On Monday, Apple introduced the smart speaker HomePod during its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose. The speaker will ship this December in the U.S. for $349.Also, Apple revealed the first details of iOS 11, the latest version of its operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices.For a recap of Apple's WWDC keynote, scroll down below:3:25 p.m.: Former first lady Michelle Obama will appear at WWDC this week. Cook finishes the keynote. Thanks for joining us!3:23 p.m.: Cook steps on stage to wrap up. Not surprising, the HomePod costs more than rivals Echo or Google Home. Is the quality worth that price? Siri might help decide that in December.3:21 p.m.: Schiller says privacy is an important part of HomePod. All communications are encrypted and queries are sent anonymously. HomePod is priced at $349. It will ship this December.3:19 p.m.: Siri on HomePod will cover other areas like news, reminders, timers, traffic information, or send text messages. The big question: how will this compare to Alexa or Google Assistant?3:16 p.m.: Schiller says the HomePod works great when paired together. The speaker also includes a musicologist to suggest new tunes. The prompt "hey Siri" works on HomePod, to call up new music.3:13 p.m.: HomePod features a 4-inch Apple designed woofer, and features an A8 chip, which also powers the iPhone. "It sounds incredible," says Schiller. Music arrives wirelessly, and the speaker appears smaller compared to Echo, but closer to the size of Google Home.3:11 p.m.: Schiller returns to discuss a "breakthrough home speaker," combining smarts with really good sound. Apple's answer? HomePod, available in black or white.3:08 p.m.: Time for Apple's "one last thing." Cook starts with iTunes, then the iPod and iPhone. "We have such a great portable experience, but what about our homes?" Speaker time. "We want to reinvent home music," says Cook. 3:06 p.m.: iOS 11 will be available to all Continue Reading