Apple HomePod is already losing the smart speaker battle
Article

Apple HomePod is already losing the smart speaker battle

Professor Bettina Büchel in The Conversation
5 min.
February 2018

The war for your digital home is waging. Apple has finally followed Amazon, Google and Microsoft by launching a smart speaker with a voice-controlled artificial intelligence assistant. Yet even though the “HomePod” is another technological marvel, there’s a chance Apple is already losing the battle.

The competition isn’t just through the sound quality of the speaker – but the other things that users can do with it. The most common requests to AI personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri are reportedly to play music, read the weather forecast and set timers or reminders.

But the capabilities of these assistants are increasing at lightning speed. This doesn’t just rely on the sophistication of the artificial intelligence involved but also what other technology the assistant can link to. And given Apple’s tendency to reject open connections to other company’s systems, it may find it has some serious catching up to do.

Apple’s HomePod is entering an already busy marketplace. Probably the most famous smart speaker is Amazon’s Echo, which runs the AI assistant Alexa. 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 US version alone, up from 5,000 just over a year ago. It can now read out recipes, order a pizza, turn on the lights or tell jokes. Partly because it was the first major smart speaker released, Echo has a greater depth of capabilities than any of its rivals.

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