"We have to imagine there is going to be more there", Mr Blau said. But what about the home? Amazon and Google are invested in selling your data for more targeted advertising, which subsidizes the lower price of its devices. Google followed with its Home speaker, featuring its plain-named Assistant, last year.
HomePod capped a keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference that included updates to its iPad and Mac laptop lines, and upgraded operating software enabling augmented reality for iPhones and iPads. It was only a matter of when.
Starting in iOS 10, released previous year, the software built in a safeguarding engine, dubbed "differential privacy", that effectively scrubs and adds noise to user data so that the company can't tell where it's coming from but can still provide useful feedback to the user. Ouch. Google and Amazon thank you. But the HomePod, priced at $349, is designed with high-end audio features like the ability to detect the size and shape of the room and use this information to adjust the sound of the speaker. That means Apple can analyze search queries for trends, without being able to identify any particular individual customer.
That's an interesting, and I think smart, thing to do.
That's not to say Apple's new speaker will definitely be a hit, just to say that first impressions are often hilariously wrong.
Apple Music will offer additional playlists, including those based on tunes to which friends are listening. Google showed off Google Assistant ordering sandwiches at Panera through voice commands, and a multi-platform vision where a Chromecast works in tandem as an external display with a Google Home for visual results. Hence, HomePod looks the part, with beefier dimensions and weight than its competitors. The HomePod can also be networked, so that multiple speakers can be installed in the same room, to produce more immersive sound. "To the contrary, we believe the fidelity-focused HomePod highlighted Apple's lack of key proprietary services, which we view as a challenge to maintaining hardware gross margins over time".
The new gadget will be a direct rival to both the Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers. If that's true some of it will be related to the aforementioned spacial awareness and tuning, and that A8 CPU, but also good old fashioned tweeters. If you happen to be subscribed to Cupertino's music-streaming service, you'll have access to its entire library and your own playlists and preferences. And, yes, of course, it's full-on "Hey, Siri" capable.
Given that Amazon and Google have already beat Apple to market, it makes sense that Apple would not respond with another me-too product.
"This product is much more of a me-too offering". Perhaps most just care about convenience and putting a few assistants around the home without breaking the bank.
"The area I'm personally excited about is AR", Cook explained.
In lieu of those skills, Apple is banking on HomePod's superior audio quality to stand out from the competition. The app is fabulous. It'll act as a wireless speaker, so you'll be able to blast whatever music you want from your phone to HomePod using Apple's AirPlay technology.