Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s upcoming HomePod are all hot topics with the holiday season upon us.
Already, Amazon’s Alexa AI has gained new capabilities, and there’s some big news with Google’s much anticipated Google Home Max. On top of that, Apple made a notable acquisition that could impact Siri and Apple’s upcoming HomePod speaker. Here’s a quick roundup of what you need to know.
Amazon Alexa can handle music alarms
Instead of your traditional old alarm clock, you can now use Alexa to wake you up in the morning (or alert you at any time of day, really). You can use a handful of different commands to specify what type of music you’d like to hear. At the most general, you can ask “Alexa, wake me up at 6:30am every day to music.” You can also ask for a specific genre or station by asking something like “Alexa, wake me up to ’80s music at 9am” or “Alexa, wake me up to Kanye West radio on Pandora at 8am.” You can also ask for a specific type of music, like “relaxing music,” and you can also request a specific song. You can source tunes from Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, and TuneIn.
You can now buy the Google Home Max
On Monday Google’s plus-size home speaker, the Google Home Max went on sale for $399. The Google Home Max is a plus-size Amazon Echo competitor, and a companion to the smaller Google Home speaker that’s been around since 2016, and the puck-like Google Home Mini, which went on sale this year. It features dual 4.5-inch woofers and custom .7-inch tweeters for audio marketed to be 20 times more powerful than the original Google Home. Like the yet-to-be-released Apple HomePod, it has the ability to sense the space it’s in, and customize its audio qualities as necessary so you get the best sound.
Apple HomePod could get extra Shazam smarts
Apple on Monday confirmed that it had acquired music and audio identifying wunderkind Shazam. In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple said, “Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.” Apple Music will be a key feature in Apple’s upcoming HomePod speaker, which was originally supposed to ship by the holidays but has since been delayed. Perhaps, with Shazam’s IP baked into this music experience, Apple Music and Apple’s smart speaker will emerge as a dominant player in the space—despite the company’s late entry.