smart speakers

New Sonos Era smart speakers take direct aim at HomePod

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The Sonos Era 300 is the larger and better-equipped of the two new smart speakers.
The Sonos Era 300 is the larger and better-equipped of the two new smart speakers.
Photo: Sonos

A new leak indicates Sonos will release its new Sonos Era 100 and 300 smart speakers in March with a slew of features that challenge Apple’s recently relaunched HomePod.

Of the two new Sonos speakers, the pricier Era 300 features a version of spatial audio. Both support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB-C line-in for versatile connectivity. The Era 100 is likely to replace the much-liked Sonos One, launched in 2017.

HomePod 2 review roundup: Great sound but no giant leap forward

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A second-generation HomePod and a hand holding an iPhone.
The new HomePod looks almost exactly like the original, but it packs definite improvements.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of the updated HomePod say the new smart speaker sounds excellent but doesn’t break much new ground.

Compared to Apple’s original smart speaker, the second-generation HomePod is more of an asset in a smart home than before. However, the device’s limitations on playing music from third-party sources mean that the home in question better be an Apple household.

Apple resurrects full-size HomePod with hot new features, same old price

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Apple resurrects full-size HomePod with hot new features, same old price
The full-size HomePod is back!
Photo: Apple

Apple unveiled HomePod 2 on Wednesday, bringing its full-size smart speaker back from the dead. The new model offers high-quality audio and new smart-home features, but comes in at the same price as its predecessor.

“With the popularity of HomePod mini, we’ve seen growing interest in even more powerful acoustics achievable in a larger HomePod. We’re thrilled to bring the next generation of HomePod to customers around the world,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s SVP of worldwide marketing, in a press release.

Edifier AirPlay 2 smart speaker looks good and sounds better [Review] ★★★★☆

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This handsome speaker offers high-quality sound at an attractive price.★★★★☆
This handsome speaker offers high-quality sound at an attractive price.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

If you’re looking for quality audio at an affordable price, you can certainly do much worse than Edifier products. The Chinese company consistently comes across with great value, and that’s the case with the Edifier MS50A powered wireless smart speaker.

The company sent me one of the handsome, wood-paneled speakers to test out. Though it’s not the smartest smart speaker on the block, it looks and sounds great for the price. I’ll get into more detail below.

What to expect from HomePod 2

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HomePod in China
If you're in the market for a smart speaker, here's what you need to know about the HomePod 2.
Photo: Apple

A replacement for the original, full-size HomePod is reportedly in development. The smart speaker is expected to provide better audio performance than the current HomePod mini.

And it might debut as early as fall 2022.

What could be in store for the return of the big HomePod?

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The big HomePod could be back soon. But how pricey and how functional will it be?
The beloved big HomePod could be back soon. But how pricey and how functional will it be?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple plans to produce an updated version of the HomePod as soon as the fourth quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023, supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Friday.

As reliable as Kuo can be, little other information exists beyond speculation. But that’s part of the fun.

A lot of folks are jonesing for an Apple smart speaker that goes beyond the HomePod mini. The original HomePod, while much more expensive, earned a great reputation for sound quality before Apple killed it in 2021. So naturally, Apple fans are interested in a successor, possibly with new features.

HomePod mini’s new color options are available to order now

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HomePod mini breaks out in a burst of colors
HomePod mini will soon debut in three new colors: orange, yellow, and blue. That’s in addition to white and space gray.
Photo: Apple

Apple today confirmed that its new color options for HomePod mini are now available to order in a small number of markets, including the U.S., Canada and Mexico. They will roll out in more territories, including the U.K., later this month.

HomePod mini is still priced at $99 in yellow, orange, and blue. The new color options are functionally identical to the earlier white and space gray models, with no internal alterations to the device.

HomePod mini’s new color options could hit US next week, Europe later

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HomePod mini breaks out in a burst of colors
Get yours in orange, yellow or blue.
Photo: Apple

HomePod mini’s new color options, which were introduced during Apple’s big MacBook Pro event on October 18, will go on sale in the U.S. next week, according to a new report. Fans in Europe will have to wait a little longer.

The new color options include orange, yellow and blue. Aside from the fresh lick of paint, however, the new smart speakers are identical to the original.

HomePod smart speaker had a great quarter in the US

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HomePod mini
The HomePod mini likely had a lot to do with it.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

HomePod shipments in the United States increased 180% year-on-year in the last quarter, eclipsing the growth of smart speaker makers Amazon and Google during the period, market intelligence firm Omdia reports.

While Apple still lags behind the other two companies on shipments, it is looking more competitive than it has at any point in the history of the HomePod so far. That’s particularly impressive when considering that this was a rough three-month period for smart speakers in the US, whose growth is stalling.

Pint-size Sonos Roam speaker goes anywhere your iPhone does

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Pint-size Sonos Roam speaker goes anywhere your iPhone does
Sonos Roam connects to your Apple devices over more than Bluetooth.
Photo: Sonos

The Sonos Roam is a new high-end smart speaker with support for Apple AirPlay 2, so it plays nicely with iPhone or other Apple computers.

The tubular accessory weights in just under a pound, but Sonos says, “precision-engineered acoustics deliver the clarity, depth, and fullness you would expect from a much larger speaker.”

Siri activated by ‘a city’ or ‘OK, Jerry’ reveals study of false wake words

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Siri Lights
Accidental wake words affects all the major smart assistants.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

“Hey Siri” can be inadvertently activated by other wake words including “A city,” “Hey Jerry,” and more, reveal researchers from Germany’s Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Bochum Max Planck Institute.

Siri’s far from the only voice assistant with a weakness when it comes to false triggers, however. The study compiled a list of over 1,000 words that can accidentally activate different A.I. assistants.

Apple shipped 2.6 million HomePods during all-important holiday quarter

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
HomePod is still a bit player in the smart speaker market.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple sold just 2.6 million HomePods into the retail channel worldwide in the last three months of 2020, a new report claims. While that is up from the 1.6 million units it shipped the same quarter a year earlier, it’s still a fraction of the total shipped by market leader Amazon.

“The price is still very high,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, told Cult of Mac. “That closes the door to a huge swathe of potential customers.”

These Vizio smart speakers are affordable Sonos alternatives [Deals]

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Vizio Main
These portable speakers sport awesome audio quality and a sleek design perfect for enjoying tunes and shows on the go.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

If you’re on the hunt for a good portable speaker, look no further than this pair from Vizio. Each is a solid, sleek wireless speaker with great features and eye-catching design. Even better, they’re both discounted by more than half, so you can get them for a song.

HomePod will get smarter (and more chill) this fall

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HomePod speaker
HomePod is getting some nifty new features.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple didn’t mention HomePod during yesterday’s iPhone 11 event — but it certainly didn’t forget about it, either.

Following the keynote, Apple quietly updated HomePod’s webpage. In doing so, it added exciting details about improvements being lined up for Apple’s smart speaker this fall.

Amazon’s next Echo could challenge HomePod on audio quality

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
An Amazon Echo for audiophiles? Yes please!
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Amazon’s Echo is annihilating Apple’s HomePod when it comes to smart speaker sales. But Jeff Bezos’ retail giant clearly knows a great idea when it sees one.

According to a new report, Amazon is developing a new Echo device that will measure up more favorably to Apple’s audiophile HomePod.

Apple still struggling to make a sound in Europe’s smart speaker market

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
Google and Amazon continue to lead.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There’s a new challenger to the smart speaker throne — and, no, it’s not Apple’s HomePod.

According to the latest data from IDC, in Europe Google has overtaken Amazon as the market leader in smart speakers. Google Home devices accounted for 45.1% of shipped smart speakers in the region in Q1. That beats Amazon’s 41.8%. Apple’s HomePod doesn’t even even get a mention.

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.

HomePod will ‘gain traction’ in booming smart speaker market

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
HomePod is part of a growing product category.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The smart speaker market continues to explode — and Apple’s expected to carve out an ever-growing piece of it.

According to a new report published by IDC, the global smart speaker market will grow 26.9 percent in 2019. In total, the research firm thinks that 832.7 million total smart speakers will ship this year.