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Apple’s HomePod continues smart speaker trend

Courtesy+of+Wikimedia+Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Anthony Xu, Reporter

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Following in the footsteps of Amazon and Google, Apple recently released their own voice-controlled smart speaker named the HomePod. Announced in early June last year, the HomePod became available to pre-order on Jan. 26, with the first orders arriving Feb. 9.

Equipped with Apple’s voice assistant Siri, the HomePod can perform the same commands as other Apple devices, such as setting a reminder for an event, reporting the latest news, or making and answering phone calls. In addition to Siri’s usual functions, it also connects with smart homes, allowing users to control functions such as dimming the lights or setting the temperature.

Weighing in at around five and a half pounds, the HomePod boasts excellent sound quality with its seven tweeter array, enhancing higher frequency sounds, combined with a powerful woofer to create bass. Furthermore, the new device adjusts its sound depending on its location to direct the sound waves for optimal performance.

Along with the technological benefits, the HomePod’s exterior design is simplistic yet sleek. With its round edges, the HomePod separates itself from the sharp edges of the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. The two options for color, which also appear on many of Apple’s devices, are white and space gray, which add to the minimalistic theme of the speaker.

However, Apple’s new creation sits on the pricier side, with a retail price of $349. Compared to Google Home’s $129 and Amazon Echo’s mere $99, Apple’s Homepod is much less affordable than its counterparts.

Unlike Amazon Echo and Google Home, the HomePod is only limited to Apple products.

I think it’s another example of Apple’s failures to cooperate with industry norms,” Sanjay Rajasekharan (10) said. “If you look at all the other smart speakers they are all typically compatible with other music streaming platforms, but obviously Apple will not do that, and you can only use it on your Apple Music account. Other things, it’s only compatible with iPhones, which renders it useless for someone like me who prefers Android. So they basically lock out the majority of the population from using their product.”

Also, Amazon and Google released their voice controlled speakers much earlier than Apple did, with the Echo in 2014 and Google in 2016. The two other companies have developed other AI products as well with items like the Echo Dot or the Google Home mini, much cheaper products with similar capabilities as their parent speakers.

Apple’s recent involvement with smart-speakers is yet another result of the growing trend in artificial intelligence. Amazon is starting to expand its smart product line with the release of the Echo Spot and the Echo Show, two devices with displays, as well as a 2nd generation Echo. Meanwhile, other companies like Sonos and JBL, two businesses specializing in sound, are jumping on the trend with their own smart speakers, the Sonos One and the JBL Link.

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Apple’s HomePod continues smart speaker trend