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Hey Siri, does Deezer work on the HomePod and HomePod Mini?

You don’t need Siri to answer that question, Music Ally is here as your friendly voice (well, text) assistant to say yes. Yes it does.

Deezer announced yesterday that its service now works nicely with Apple’s HomePod and HomePod Mini smart speakers.

That means its subscribers (and just them: not its free listeners) will be able to set Deezer as their default music streaming service on the devices, and then play music from it without having to add the qualifier ‘on Deezer’ when talking to Siri.

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Apple’s HomePod will soon support Dolby Atmos… for home cinema

People have been wondering when (or even if) the likes of Apple and Spotify will get into hi-res music streaming, even if opinions still vary on how you define ‘hi-res’.

Here’s some interesting news from Apple, then: its HomePod smart speaker will soon support Dolby Atmos audio. There’s a caveat: this isn’t for music streaming, it’s for home cinema.

The speaker (but not its new little sibling the HomePod Mini) will support ‘home cinema with Apple TV 4K’, so the Dolby Atmos will be for watching films and shows on an Apple TV paired with the HomePod, rather than for listening to music.

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Apple’s HomePod will soon support non-Apple music services

Last night was the keynote for Apple’s annual WWDC event, which is an online-only affair this year. You can watch the full presentation on YouTube, and read about the new features coming to iPhone’s iOS software. But what about music?

One slide of new features shown during the keynote included an image of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker with the words ‘third-party music services’, which suggests the device will finally open up properly to Apple Music’s rivals – including Spotify, whose anti-competition complaint to the European Commission last year included HomePod in its list of grievances.

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Apple HomePod set to get ‘Ambient Sounds’ mode this autumn

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker didn’t get much of a look-in at the company’s press event earlier this week, which focused more on iPhones, iPads, watches and the company’s new video-streaming and games subscription services.

But Apple has quietly updated its HomePod product page to remind owners of a pair of new features coming to the device this autumn – and a third that hasn’t (as far as Music Ally is aware) been previously announced.

The two already-revealed features are multi-user support, so that the HomePod can recognise different voices in a family and thus play music based on their profiles, and live streaming of more than 100k radio stations via integrations with iHeartRadio, TuneIn and Radio·com.

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Smart speaker sales, forecasts and market share: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and more

The music industry is intensely interested in the growth of the market for smart speaker devices: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and other speakers controlled via voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri respectively.

Research firms are also interested in this market, putting out regular estimates of how well these devices are selling and how the market shares of their manufacturers are changing. We’ve covered an array of studies, and thought it was high time we rounded them up in a primer.

Our first roundup follows, and our plan is to keep updating this article as and when new research (or even just individual data-points from companies in the sector) comes out.

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Amazon estimated to have 70% of US smart-speaker market

The latest analysis of the smart-speakers market comes from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), which reckons that the US install base of these devices is now 50m units.

The company’s survey of 500 owners also suggests that Amazon’s Echo family still has 70% of the market in terms of devices in homes, ahead of Google Home’s 24% and Apple HomePod’s 6%.

“Amazon has a two-year head start, and Amazon and Google each have a low-priced device that accounts for at least half of unit sales, so it’s not clear how much further Apple can establish itself in the market without a more competitive model,” suggested CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz.

The research also suggests that 34% of Echo owners and 31% of Google Home owners have bought more than one device.

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Google Assistant tops VC firm’s voice-assistant ‘IQ’ test

Mirror mirror on the wall, which is the smartest smart-speaker of them all? This is no fairytale: it’s a study by venture-capital firm Loup Ventures of the relative ‘IQs’ of the main voice assistants: Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.

And as it turns out, that’s the order its study ranks the assistants in, based on asking them the same 800 questions. The assistants were rated on whether they understood the questions first of all, and then on whether they delivered a “correct response”.