Smart speaker installed base could top 200 million this year

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HomePod Volume Controls
Perhaps a rising tide of smart speaker sales will help HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The number of smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod in use around the world is expected to keep growing strongly for years to come. It could pass 200 million in 2019, and pass 500 million in 2023.

Analysts from Canalys indicate the installed base of these devices is now surpassing the number of smartwatches in use. And smart speakers could even outnumber tablets before the end of 2021, they say.

Top 5 tech trends of 2018 [Year in Review]

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Top 5 tech trends of 2018 [Year in Review]
We take a look at what really changed for Apple and other tech companies in 2018.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac Year in Review 2018: Top 5 tech trends of 2018 Growing concerns about how much companies are spying on us tops our list of the most significant tech trends of 2018. Also on the list are some big changes in applications, a trend in phone design, and a new type of device that became nearly ubiquitous. 

As the new year begins, let’s take a look back at what changed for Apple and the tech world over the past 12 months.

Tim Cook’s Madrid vist highlights HomePod launch in Spain

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Apple's CEO and Spanish singer Rosalía take a selfie with Madrid Apple employees.
Apple's CEO and Spanish singer Rosalía take a selfie with Madrid Apple employees.
Photo: Tim Cook

The Apple CEO’s tour of Europe continued today with a visit to sunny Spain. He’s there to promote tomorrow’s launch of the HomePod in the country. He’s also talking up the release of the iPhone XR, which will debut around the world on Friday.

HomePod kills where it matters most: making money

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Siri Lights
Apple is in business to make a profit, and HomePod sales are bringing in more revenue than any of its rivals.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Weak HomePod sales caused it to fall off of the list of top 5 smartspeakers during the second quarter of this year. But there’s a very important metric where this product is beating all its rivals.

And it’s a category where Apple excels: making money.

Trump tariffs are about to hit Apple fans where it hurts

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tariffs
President Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook don't see eye-to-eye on any of the Trump tarrifs.
Photos: White House/Apple

President Trump reportedly ordered tariffs on $200 billion more Chinese goods yesterday. After these were first proposed several weeks ago, Apple warned that they’ll likely increase the cost of many of its products.

The list of affected devices includes some of Apple’s most popular offerings.

Don’t expect new AirPods or HomePod until 2019

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airpods
The wait for AirPods 2 could stretch out over a year.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

New iPhones and iPads are coming this fall, but some Apple products reportedly won’t be refreshed so soon. New versions of this company’s smartspeaker and wireless headphones might not be out until 2019.

And the wait for AirPods 2 could be much longer than many are hoping.

Ex-Google AI expert will fix Siri’s serious flaws

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Meet Siri's new boss, John Giannandrea.
Siri's new boss, John Giannandrea, has the job of making this voice assistant less terrible.
Photo: Apple

Craig Federighi is no longer in charge of Siri. Responsibility for Apple’s troubled voice assistant has been given to John Giannandrea, who is now in charge of all Apple’s artificial intelligence efforts.

Siri is seen as poor competition for Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Assistant. Its weakness is hurting sales of Apple products, including the HomePod.

5 key areas Siri needs to improve in

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Siri Alexa in voice report
A survey found what people use their smartspeakers for, which should serve as a blueprint for Siri improvements.
Photo: Apple

Most people would agree that Siri is way behind its competitors. But Apple recently made moves that indicate it’s working to improve this voice assistant.

A British survey discovered what smartspeaker owners actually use them for. This could help Apple decide what new features to add to Siri, as well as the ones that need shoring up.

Spike Jonze’s amazing HomePod ad wins Cannes advertising award

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HomePod
This is the second major award for the 'Welcome Home" ad Spike Jonze created for the HomePod.
Photo: Apple

A Grand Prix in the Cannes Entertainment awards went to “Welcome Home,” a long-form ad for the HomePod created by Spike Jonze. The goal of the “Lions”  is to reward education or advertising excellent enough to qualify as art..

Watch the brilliant 5-minute ad below: