5 ways HomePod could catch up with its rivals

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HomePod Close Up
We like the HomePod. We just think there's a lot more Apple could do with it.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The iPhone dominates smartphone sales charts. The iPad is so ubiquitous that, for many, its name is a catch-all term for any tablet. The Mac is the most desirable computer out there. But the HomePod? Not so much.

According to figures released this week, Apple’s smart speaker made up just a tiny 6 percent share of all smart speaker shipments for the first quarter of 2018. What is Apple doing wrong? And what could it do to turn things around? Here are five suggestions for HomePod improvements we’d like to see.

Reports of looming Siri makeover are not fake news, just a little old

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HomePod
Maybe we're not getting a new, Siri-powered HomePod this year after all.
Photo:

It looks like Siri suffered a bit of a hangover from WWDC 2017. Monday’s reports of a Siri makeover to be unveiled at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference look like nothing but old news.

The cheeky nuggets, which came straight from Siri when asked about the upcoming event, appear to be leftover responses designed to create buzz about last year’s WWDC.

Siri ‘leaks’ about HomePod and voice change are old news [Correction]

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Siri voice
With the right question, Siri has loose lips.
Photo: iPad screen capture

Correction: This post has been updated to indicate that the Siri “leaks” making headlines this week appear to be leftovers from WWDC 2017. The somewhat cryptic Siri responses, which caused some confusion, appear to have been removed by the Siri team.

When asked about Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developer’s Conference, Siri very sweetly dishes two interesting bits of news. Apple’s voice assistant will get a new voice, and she will lend it to a new HomePod.

Apple’s $200 HomePod might carry Beats brand

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A cheaper version of the HomePod could drop below the $200 mark.
The rumored inexpensive HomePod might not be called a HomePod. It could be a Beats smartspeaker instead.
Photo: Apple

Rumors indicate Apple’s working on a cheaper version of the HomePod. And now there’s a new wrinkle: this device might be sold under the Beats brand name.

This would let the HomePod name stand as a premier product, while still allowing Apple to make a more affordable smartspeaker.

iOS 11.4 adds AirPlay controls to Siri

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Siri do not disturb
You can now use Siri on your iPhone to control music on your HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple is about to let Siri control your AirPlay speakers.

As part of the latest beta for iOS 11.4, Apple has added the ability to use AirPlay commands through Siri, allowing users to use Siri on their iPhone to play something on their HomePod.

Apple cuts HomePod orders by more than half

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Apple HomePod smart speaker
HomePod sales aren't setting the world on fire.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker isn’t off to the best start in terms of sales. A new report claims that lack of demand for the speakers has resulted in Apple cutting orders from 500,000 units per month to just 200,000.

Extrapolated over the course of a year that would mean that Apple expects to sell around 2.4 million HomePods in 12 months. That would put it on a level with the 2015 first year sales of the Amazon Echo, but would be highly disappointing given the relative maturity of the smart speaker market and Apple’s name recognition.

Facebook delays smart speaker until October

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HomePod
Facebook's HomePod rival could arrive in six months.
Photo: Apple

Facebook’s smart speaker will reportedly launch in October, a new report claims. The social media giant’s entry into the AI speaker market already home to Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo and Google Home was allegedly delayed several months as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

As a result, Facebook has cut its 2018 order volume by around 20 percent, although orders for 2019 will remain unchanged.