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Apple finally joined the smart home speaker race with its Siri-enabled HomePod.

Maybe this explains why Siri support was low on the feature list when Apple announced HomePod, its venture into the smart speaker space now dominated by the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Google Assistant (Google Home) or Alexa (Amazon Echo) or Siri (Apple HomePod)? The company said it wasn't a competition-based decision; it was merely done because Apple TV and Chromecast were not ideal for streaming Amazon Prime Video programming.

For any speaker (home or otherwise), sound is of prime importance and the HomePod scores an A+ from most reviewers who tested out the device. Google's Home and Amazon's Echo Dot (and to a lesser extent, the full-sized Echo) are small enough that they can be slipped into corners or placed unobtrusively on tables, counters, and nightstands. Of the three, the HomePod has the largest circumference.

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Apple's device will be white and space gray in color and will to cost $349. But since then, ongoing development at the company has been comparatively moribund in contrast to the lightning-fast technology evolution from competitors like Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft's Cortana.

Apple has made it clear the HomePod is being positioned as a piece of audio gear first and foremost, with everything from seven horn-loaded tweeters, a six-microphone array for listening, and some room calculation tech created to tweak the acoustics depending on room size all jammed into a relatively small package. The HomePod, Apple Music and Siri deliver the best music experience in the home that streams ad-free directly to the HomePod.

By comparison, the Amazon Echo comes with a 2-inch tweeter and 2.5-inch woofer, while the Google Home sports a 2-inch driver and 2-inch passive radiators. One element he's curious to see how Apple handles is the very particular consumer preferences around speakers and sound quality.

The device is equipped with six different microphones so that users can use their voices to interact with the device fluently and effectively "even while loud music is playing", according to Apple.

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That makes Apple's smart home play a bit more distant than it initially seemed. And the company is attempting to do the same with the HomePod.

The Apple smart speaker is also equipped to perform functions such as setting kitchen timers, reminders, and even calendar integration. At a much steeper price, putting a HomePod in every room would be prohibitively expensive for most customers.

With their lower prices - $130 for the Home, $50 for the Dot, $180 for the full Echo - it's also much more realistic for someone to buy a few and place them throughout the house.

Popular for its wireless speakers well before Siri was a glimmer in Apple's eye, Sonos is selling two of its Play:1 Wireless Smart Speakers for $348. You're supposed to be able to just speak to them and get instant results - no phone required.

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In fact, during the announcement, the whole "smart" part of the "smart speaker" didn't warrant mention until near the end. The research firm IDC says Apple and Xiaomi each has a worldwide market share of almost 15 percent in the first quarter.

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