February 24, 2018
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The Apple HomePod is out now in the USA priced US$349.— Handout via AFPThe Apple HomePod is out now in the USA priced US$349.— Handout via AFPSAN FRANCISCO, Feb 13 — US-based venture capital firm Loup Ventures used a plethora of sample questions to test the main smart speakers currently on the market. It turns out that Siri, the intelligent assistant powering Apple’s HomePod, has some catching up to do with competitors.

Loup Ventures has tested the Apple HomePod, the Amazon Echo, the Google Home and the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speakers. In reality, the test sees Siri go up against rival AI assistants Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana.

Although Siri understood 99.4% of the 782 questions asked by testers, Apple’s AI assistant was only capable of replying to 52.3% of them correctly, placing Apple behind competitors also tested by the firm. Google Assistant answered 81% of the test questions correctly, while Alexa answered 64% correctly and Cortana answered 57% correctly.

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has just been released in the USA, where it sells for US$349 (RM1,374). Unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2017, this smart speaker has a few things up its sleeve to stand out from competitors. On the audio front, Apple promises 360-degree sound quality, with a woofer for bass plus seven tweeters for higher frequencies. Moreover, the speaker uses spatial awareness technology to determine its location in the room and adjust the sound automatically. The HomePod has no less than six built-in microphones to help it “hear” and “understand” user requests. Powered by Apple’s voice assistant Siri, the speaker lets users search for information or send messages and offers access to more than 40 million songs when paired with an Apple Music subscription. HomePod can also be used a veritable nerve centre for the smart home, interacting with the user’s smartphone to control accessories connected via HomeKit, for example, from lighting to blinds.

HomePod is listed as compatible with iPhones running iOS 11 (all Apple models from the iPhone 5s onwards)

Research from Canalys predicts shipments of more than 50 million smart speakers worldwide in 2018. — AFP-Relaxnews



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