Sonos Pokes Fun at Apple's Homepod Launch

Lena Tucker
February 11, 2018

The war for your digital home is waging.

Apple's HomePod went on sale this morning in the US, and customers who preordered the smart speaker are receiving their shipments across all three countries where the device is available, including Australia and the United Kingdom. Users can ask it questions and tell it to do things.

Note that the $199 Sonos One is able to use Alexa now, is adding Google Assistant support via a software update in the near future, and will have support for streaming music via Apple's upcoming AirPlay 2, as well.

But the capabilities of these assistants are increasing at lightning speed.

Alibaba cuts into the market with its self-developed artificial intelligence and cloud technologies, while Xiaomi is backed by its broad product mix of hardware, which will enable the two companies to catch up, say they analyst. It should also be able to hand calls and messages off to other Apple products as seamlessly as iOS and macOS devices can. Second, the business ecosystem for Apple has a high standard so that application providers may find it hard to enter.

Priced at $349, it's much more expensive than the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which are roughly a third of the price. 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 United States version alone, up from 5,000 just over a year ago. Siri also allows users to control HomeKit smart home accessories.

Microsoft has partnered with electronics manufacturer Harman Kardon to create a speaker called Invoke powered by Microsoft's Cortana assistant.

Tweet Embed: So my sister has gone on a couple of dates with a guy named Wyatt but she likes someone else so she made him a Spotify playlist and. Its AI capabilities are also not almost as developed as either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

Apple's past week was all about sound. Siri needs to be better everywhere, and really excellent on screenless devices like HomePod, particularly when you're posing a series of questions about the same topic. Siri now can't deliver on one of those three most critical abilities, as it can only set one timer at a time. Further, there is Siri integration to let you interact with the HomePod directly using your own voice. But the way its underlying system operates may not make it so easy. Cortana comes standard on Windows machines but it's also available for download on Android and iOS. This is a nifty feature which arguably gives the device an edge over the other two speakers here.

With that in mind, I blasted the speaker in my family room and basement, as well as in a large USA TODAY photo studio and in an even more expansive, near-empty newsroom. This is thanks to Apple's own intelligent personal assistant, Siri.

"Indeed, the perception out there is that Siri, despite being on tens of millions of iPhones and the first virtual assistant to make a name for itself, just isn't as smart or useful as Alexa and the Google Assistant". Amazon can get anything delivered to you.

If you don't already have favorite podcasts, mind, HomePod isn't so helpful.

While these firms each want to become your assistant everywhere, Apple is betting instead on your love of sound quality. "Not even Siri can answer whether that will be possible".

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