HomePod is finally on its way to Japan

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HomePod market share
It will be on sale “this summer.”
Photo: Apple

Apple is gearing up to launch HomePod in Japan — more than two years after the device got its first unveiling.

Smart speaker shoppers will be able to pick one up in the coming weeks for 32,800 yen (approx. $301). HomePod will then be available in a total of 11 countries.

China overtakes U.S. as world’s biggest smart speaker market

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I sent the HomePod back, so I will keep using the single photo I took until somebody stops me.
Are you a smart speaker user?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s biggest smart speaker market. According to new figures from Canalys, the Chinese market grew nearly 500% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019.

Approximately 10.6 million units shipped in China over the quarter, compared to 5 million in the U.S. This means that China is now 51% of the global global smart speaker market. The U.S., on the other hand, comes in second place at just 24%.

Apple is now selling refurbished HomePods

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The HomePod -- a beautiful body with the brain of an idiot.
Bag a HomePod for under $250.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Getting your hands on Apple’s HomePod smart speaker just got a little bit more affordable.

Apple’s online store is now selling refurbished HomePod units for $299. This is the first time the HomePod has been added to the refurbished store since the speaker first went on sale in February.

Facebook wants to put a camera in your living room

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Facebook Portal
Portal is Facebook's answer to the Echo Show.
Photo: Facebook

Do you trust Facebook to put a camera and microphone in your living room? If not, you’ll want to avoid Portal, its new smart displays focused on video chat.

Portal and Portal Plus make it easy to keep in touch with friends and family when you can’t see them face-to-face in real life. They can also play music, stream video, and do anything Amazon Alexa can do.

This HAL 9000 replica is ready to lock your pod bay door

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HAL 9000
The HAL 9000 Command Console looks just like the original.
Photo: Master Replicas Group

Fans of 2001: A Space Odyssey can now get their very own replica of HAL 9000, the iconic and murderous robot from Stanley Kubrick’s seminal film.

Master Replicas Group has created a new smart speaker that looks just like HAL 9000 and it uses voice controls and Bluetooth to become the control center for your smart house.

Take a look:

Sonos busts out new Beam sound bar, plus AirPlay 2 support

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sonos beam
Sonos Beam is sleek but packs a punch.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos is making a power play to take over your living room with its latest smart speaker called Sonos Beam.

Beam is a new sound bar that is smaller than Sonos’ Playbar and Playbase, but it also packs some new features like a five-microphone array and it plays well with Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and of course, Siri.

Watch out HomePod, this thing looks amazing: