Apple to Charge $279 to Repair Out of Warranty HomePod

Reviewers love HomePod's loud, bass-y sound, but hate how dumb Siri is

The war for your digital home is waging. In answering to your "Hey Siri" vocal commands, Apple's assistant can perform numerous same table-stakes tasks as Amazon's Alexa on Echos or the Google Assistant on Google Home speakers - from setting timers and reminders to informing you of the weather and traffic, turning on smart lights or solving math.

Finally, the HomePod is yet another major brick in Apple's walled garden. If you ask your Echo a question, for example, you can see that - and the answer Alexa gave - in Amazon's Alexa smartphone app.

Most notably, which one plays music the best? This doesn't just rely on the sophistication of the artificial intelligence involved but also what other technology the assistant can link to.

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced HomePod last June at WWDC 2017, saving it for the traditionally important "one last thing" slot at the end of his speech. Because Amazon opened up its system for anyone to write software programs for it, Alexa now has over 25,000 specific capabilities or "skills" in its U.S. version alone, up from 5,000 just over a year ago. Who tells the best jokes?

Sonos is smart enough to not go quite that far.

Microsoft has partnered with electronics manufacturer Harman Kardon to create a speaker called Invoke powered by Microsoft's Cortana assistant. "We made you a playlist", Sonos said in the tweet.

HomePod is a new wireless speaker with built-in Siri controls by Apple.

Apple's HomePod hits stores on Friday, but Sonos, which makes competing smart speakers, isn't sweating it. Though it may be a new addition, is the HomePod really worth it? Siri now can't deliver on one of those three most critical abilities, as it can only set one timer at a time. It will support multiple voice services, launching with Amazon Alexa, but will add Siri using AirPlay 2, and Google Assistant, in 2018. But the way its underlying system operates may not make it so easy. The HomePod also allows hands-free voice calls.

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The device has two main purposes...

"HomePod is an Apple-only device, so it is much more limited in what it can control in terms of smart home gadgets", said Martin. The Home Max is ultimately the more universal option of the two.

In line with these concerns over the security of personal data, Apple has developed a comprehensive security protocol that beats at the heart of every Siri request.

A HomePod ordered today is expected to be delivered by February 22 at the earliest, according to the Apple site, though those who preordered are expected to receive them earlier. Apple would need to mobilise a considerable number of developers to enlarge its capabilities beyond this. Especially against current competitors that already provide great results, such as with the Google Home Max?

With this being central to the speaker systems, each assistant is more than adequate, but each carries its own advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to music, Google, and for that matter Amazon, can help you play a song in which you can't recall the title and only remember a few lyrics.

While these firms each want to become your assistant everywhere, Apple is betting instead on your love of sound quality.

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