“In December, Apple will ship HomePod, a smart speaker with a unique focus on music,” Gene Munster writes for Loup Ventures. “Don’t be fooled, however, by HomePod’s music-focused marketing; Apple has a grander vision than delivering a better sounding Echo. The company is making Siri a ubiquitous, ambient presence that connects and controls all your connected devices and services – and making a leap forward in the transition to voice-first computing.”

“Natural language as a computing input is not only a more natural way to interact with our devices, but it can also be remarkably more efficient. When typing or clicking, users will be very brief, leaving the computer with little information to act on. Asking a verbal question, however, allows for more involved queries with which a machine can much more easily determine intent and deliver more specific information,” Munster writes. “This is one area in which Siri excels. Siri is able to process commands with multiple steps, such as, ‘make a note called Slide 4 in my Presentation Notes folder that says: change transition.’ Users will also be able to say, ‘send directions to Steve’s house to my phone,’ or, ‘turn on the TV and play the newest episode of Westworld.’ These functionalities are not unique to Siri, but Apple’s seamlessly integrated ecosystem of devices puts them in a position to employ voice-first computing in ways their competitors can’t match.”

Apple's HomePod

Apple’s HomePod

 
“SiriKit allows third-party developers to add voice capabilities to their apps. Consumers will be able to do a lot more with Siri than set a timer or ask for the weather. As Apple’s vibrant community of developers works to integrate voice into third-party apps, users will be able to get real work done with verbal inputs, marking a turning point in voice-first computing,” Munster writes. “Apple is well-positioned for long-term success… [as] the long-term winner will be the product that provides its user with a heightened experience and improved efficiency. We believe Apple is uniquely positioned to do so, as Apple’s device ecosystem delivers a frictionless experience, which will only get better with the adoption of voice-first computing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: HomePod, via rather stunning audio quality, is a trojan horse for delivering Siri.

Starting well over a year ago, we, as usual, correctly predicted that Apple would deliver a “Siri Speaker.”

We outlined why a “Siri Speaker” — Apple’s first Siri-centric device — might work better for people, even when Siri is ever-present inside our iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Macs. And, we stated our expectation that Apple’s “Siri Speaker’ would quickly take the coveted premium (read: profitable) portion of the market:

There could be a psychological component to this that leads people use Alexa over Siri precisely because they know the Echo is there (it’s a physical object), but forget about Siri being everywhere, even on their wrists (because Siri is embedded inside devices that are “for other things” in the user’s mind (telling time, watching TV, computing, phone calls, etc.) and therefore “hidden” to the user. Hence, Siri gets forgotten and goes unused while people use Alexa…

Again: We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri even though she’s on their wrists at all times and/or in their iPhones and iPads because Siri is hidden inside objects whose primary function is something other than “personal assistant” in people’s minds (watch, TV, phone or tablet, as opposed to “Siri.”) Alexa is present thanks to the Amazon Echo. Siri is absent because she has no such counterpart; no physical manifestation.

Siri is a ghost. Alexa is that cool, fun, glowing tube right there on the counter.

Apple would do well to not discount the psychology behind why people use certain features, even though cold, hard logic tells them it’s a redundant and unnecessary product.

An “Apple Echo” device would sell in the millions of units per quarter and boost Siri usage immensely.MacDailyNews, June 15, 2016

Once they finally get something shipping in quantity, it’ll be fun to watch how quickly Apple takes the top end of the market away from Amazon’s Echo since Apple’s solution will certainly have unique advantages within Apple’s ecosystem that makes it the obvious choice for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users. — MacDailyNews, May 10, 2017

As per HomePod via Reddit user Arve:

1. They’re using some form of dynamic modeling, and likely also current sensing that allows them to have a p-p excursion of 20 mm in a 4″ driver. This is completely unheard of in the home market. You can read an introduction to the topic here. The practical upshot is that that 4″ driver can go louder than larger drivers, and with significantly less distortion. It’s also stuff you typically find in speakers with five-figure price tags (The Beolab 90 does this, and I also suspect that the Kii Three does). It’s a quantum leap over what a typical passive speaker does, and you don’t really even find it in higher-end powered speakers

2. The speaker uses six integrated beamforming microphones to probe the room dimensions, and alter its output so it sounds its best wherever it is placed in the room. It’ll know how large the room is, and where in the room it is placed.

3. The room correction applied after probing its own position isn’t simplistic DSP of frequency response, as the speaker has seven drivers that are used to create a beamforming speaker array,. so they can direct specific sound in specific directions. The only other speakers that do this is the Beolab 90, and Lexicon SL-1. The Beolab 90 is $85,000/pair, and no price tag is set for the Lexicon, but the expectation in the industry is “astronomical”.

So yes, compared to the typical sub-$2000 speaker, the technology they apply may just as well be considered “magic”.

SEE ALSO:
Consumers appear eager to buy Apple’s upcoming HomePod smart speaker – July 14, 2017
After seeing Apple’s HomePod, Amazon is working on an Apple HomePod echo – July 14, 2017
Apple Watch and AirPods in high demand; HomePod buying intent outpaces Amazon Echo – July 10, 2017
Apple’s HomePod could have an even more successful start than Apple Watch – July 7, 2017
Amazon Echo has a problem: Apple’s HomePod has major advantage over rivals – June 18, 2017
Apple’s HomePod first impressions: Lots of mystery, impressive sound quality – June 8, 2017
With HomePod, Apple just wants to shake things up (for now) – June 7, 2017
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo – June 7, 2017
CNET: Apple’s HomePod offers superior sound quality vs. Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3 – June 6, 2017
Apple’s new HomePod sounds incredible! – June 6, 2017
Apple HomePod takes on Amazon Echo – June 6, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017