Cheaper HomePod, smarter Siri predicted for WWDC

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Siri display
Gene Munster thinks we'll see some big things at WWDC.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple will introduce a Beats-branded $250 HomePod smart speaker at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, predicts Apple analyst Gene Munster.

Munster’s other predictions for the big Apple developer event include new HomePod capabilities, additional Siri abilities, extra Core ML extensions, and more.

“The knock on HomePod is its $349 price is about 2-3x the price of a typical smart speaker,” Munster writes. “We believe Apple can advance its digital assistant ambitions with a $250 Beats-branded option that does not compromise HomePod’s $349 price point.”

“We are currently modeling for HomePod to have a low-to-mid teens digital assistant market share, and this Beats integration does not change our market share outlook,” he continues.

Smarter Siri, more AR and ML

In addition, Munster suggests that Siri on the regular HomePod could be about to get smarter. Alongside the recent addition of AirPlay 2 on Apple’s smart speaker, this would solve a big problem lots of people have voiced with the device.

“Siri on HomePod is more limited in the number of domains, so adding support for things like navigation and email would quickly improve the experience,” he notes. “Siri can also improve the information utility by simply integrating Spotlight Search.”

Munster additionally suggests that Apple will improve the Core ML machine learning framework it introduced at last year’s event.

While Apple currently offers Core ML for 15 domains, Munster thinks the company will add more. He also thinks it will focus on ARKit technology to make for a more compelling user experience.

On top of this, he says Apple will ramp up its privacy focus with new features that notify users when their data is being shared with developers.

Has he got it right?

Will any of this happen? A focus on ARKit and Core ML seems like a no-brainer, while better Siri for HomePod will certainly be welcome if Apple chooses to introduce it. The most far-fetched suggestion is for a lower-cost HomePod under the Beats banner, although Munster is not the first person to mention such a thing.

Ultimately, it’s worth taking this with a pinch of salt until next Monday. After all, as Munster himself notes: “We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.”

Let’s not forget that he’s the analyst who suggested that an official Apple television set was perpetually just around the corner.

Source: Loup Ventures