Can Apple's (AAPL) HomePod Outmuscle Amazon and Google?

Analysts say Apple has been slow to improve its Siri virtual assistant and launch a smart speaker, after Amazon launched its Echo in 2014.

All told, companies are pushing for voice-powered commands where computing is not tied to a screen. The Cupertino giant is emphasising on HomePod's sound quality marketing it more of a smart speaker than just an assistant.

It also gives Apple the justification to price the HomePod as high as it is.

If you've ever wished that you could talk to iPhone's Siri voice assistant from across your front room, Apple is about to make your dreams come true.

As well as offering instant translations and letting you use Messages with your voice, the speaker will work with a range of HomeKit-enabled smart home devices.

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But none of that is much different from what Amazon and Google speakers already offer. For HomePod it's Siri, and for Amazon Echo it's Alexa. It has a 4-inch woofer with a custom amplifier as well as seven beamform tweeters, each with individual drivers. And when factoring that HomePod comes equipped with the A8 chip, the same processor found in the iPhone 6 from 2016. It has multi-channel echo cancellation, real-time acoustic modeling and more. Despite the company's insistence that HomePod will sound fantastic, it all feels like too little too late to take on the growing smart speaker market. One of its selling points is its ability to automatically adjust sound delivery by sensing where it is placed in the house. This is very similar to Sonos' Trueplay feature, which similarly tunes its speakers to any room.

The HomePod speaker is created to work with an Apple Music subscription for access to over 40 million songs and comes with an array of six microphones, so users can interact with it from across the room, even while loud music is playing.

Note also that even Siri's function on HomePod is widely focused on music-related tasks, such as remembering what songs the user prefers by saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song". One issue here is whether the HomePod will play nice with other music streaming services like Spotify.

The connected speaker market is the next big tech hotspot, and there are now three primary players.

Amazon's head of products says he'd allow other voice assistants, such as Apple's Siri or Google Assistant, on the Amazon Echo.

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