Technology Two of Apple's former HomePod masterminds prep a 'revolutionary' speaker
Huawei made its own Siri rival called Celia
Given there's no Google Assistant on Huawei's latest devices, including the P40 series, the company has revealed its very own voice assistant called Celia. She/it/they will understand commands in English, French and Spanish and will behave an awful lot like Siri did at launch, namely some pretty basic voice interactions with core phone features. Think: weather updates, texts and phone call requests. It'll also set reminders, interact with your calendar and even translate. Huawei first mentioned Celia last year, pitched as the global version of its Chinese-speaking voice assistant called Xiaoyi.
Many tech startups like to brag about having former employees of Silicon Valley giants among their ranks, but this is one that may have more of an impact than most. Financial Timessay that ex-Apple design legend Christopher Stringer and engineer Afrooz Family are using their startup Syng to develop a “revolutionary” speaker system that would tackle both their former employer’s as well as Sonos’ home audio devices. Their upcoming Cell speakers would reportedly use a mix of Stringer’s design and Family’s audio engineering to produce “immersive [audio] rendering” whose sound would be “indistinguishable from reality,” according to the investment pitch.
Amazon's Echo speaker drops to $60 at Best Buy
Now’s a good time to act if you want a soundtrack while you’re staying home. Best Buy has discounted Amazon’s third-generation Echo speaker for $60, or a hefty $40 off the usual price. On top of that, you can spend another $10 for Amazon’s Smart Plug (the “hot offer” below the price) to get your smart home setup started. Amazon is offering a similar deal, including the Smart Plug, if you’d prefer to shop there. While this won’t rival theWhile this won’t rival the highest-end smart speakers, it should be an exceptional value at its lowered price. The sound is significantly richer and bassier than its predecessor, to the point where it compares more closely to Sonos’ entry-level models.
This kind of hype is common among startups, but the two have some credibility to back up their boasts. Stringer has handled design work on numerous major Apple projects, including the HomePod as well as the Apple Watch and iPhone. Family, meanwhile, was key to designing the spatial audio system that lets the HomePod adjust its sound based on its location in the room — Apple’s speaker wouldn’t have its audio wizardry without him.
The first Cell speaker is due in the fourth quarter of the year, according to FT, although it’s not certain how the pandemic will affect that timeline. However, this may be the highest-profile company from former Apple staff since Nest, which was founded by iPod ‘father’ Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers (Syng counts Rogers as a board member). The challenge will simply be to stand out in a crowded market. Syng will have to show that its talent translates to a speaker that’s genuinely better than similarly-priced rivals.
Is there an Apple HomePod 2 on the way? .
We round up the rumors when it comes to a new generation of Apple's only smart speaker. Could it finally compete with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled speakers?Apple's HomePod prices are down.