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The battle of the home speaker AI assistant is coming to Canada

11 June 2017

Smart speakers are pretty good listeners, too. However, you have to push a button to start Alexa voice conversations. Surely not. Tim came into proceedings with a knowing confidence stating that Apple had already re-invented portable music and now it was time to reinvent wireless music throughout the home. Despite beating Amazon and Google in introducing a voice assistant in 2011, Apple has lagged behind the two competitors in improving the accuracy and breadth of questions Siri can answer. Each connects to various smart home devices, though, predictably, your smart thermostat, garage door opener and lights are generally compatible with one, not all.

Recorded audio is already a topic of debate. While many experts believe that Amazon's product is now stronger than Apple's (especially its activation command) and more competitively priced, it may not take long for Apple to add features and improve its Home Pod. A VoiceLabs survey of smart speaker owners found that more than 40 percent of activity with the AI-powered devices is still related to playing music or books.

Apple's HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Echo all encrypt the voice recordings sent to their respective servers.

You can also pair one HomePod with another, and the two will detect each other and work in tandem to amplify and balance the sound.

HomePod is Apple's bet in the burgeoning market for smart home systems.

"Apple's announcements were focused on reassuring developers that Apple is still in the game of providing tools to reach consumers".

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Siri has gone from being a competitive differentiator for Apple to almost its opposite, a product seen by many as falling behind its rivals.

By going only for the higher end of the market, Apple continues ceding some early smart home turf to its competitors, despite a wide-open opportunity.

However, the Amazon (amzn) Echo costs $180. "The iTunes store has great data, but the scale of it is not Google or Amazon".

Amazon was able to provide data for a murder trial because all the recordings, even though they were encrypted, are linked to individuals.

"The recordings are securely stored in the [Amazon Web Services] cloud and tied to your account to allow the service to be personalized for each user", an Amazon spokeswoman said in an email. Sonos speakers range from $199 to $499.

However, a recent statement from an Amazon exec holds that the HomePod is not such a big threat to the Echo family, as the products are "different philosophically" and should appeal to different tastes and needs.

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There was no overwhelming differentiation in HomePod, according to the analyst. Apple is confident enough about the product that it says the HomePod will dominate the marketplace in 2018. But the device is more than just a music player.

It's certainly a major paint point: A user can only access select apps pre-approved by Apple using Siri. That's useful, considering that Apple gets slammed with thousands of national security requests every year. That's twice the cost of the Echo and nearly three times the price of Google Home.

It's probably fair to say Google and Amazon are less interested in audio performance, though their speakers still sound decent. They are created to read news or tell you the weather, or to make calls.

Second, they could work on beefing up Siri's skills or work on more integrations in the interim, but their options are fairly limited on that front.

Another disadvantage it has is that music support only comes from Apple Music.

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The battle of the home speaker AI assistant is coming to Canada