Apple HomePod and other smart speakers help people feel less alone and more confident

HomePod mini uses Siri as a smart assistant


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New research reveals that most people love smart speakers like the Apple HomePod and find it has a positive impact on their lives.

Whether it's Siri on a HomePod mini or Alexa on an Amazon device, smart assistants are more common than ever. The simplicity of devices and voice interaction encourage people to use products more and in ways previously unknown.

At least that's what one study published by Ofcom says. The researchers studied a group of 100 smart speaker users and 15 non-users for three weeks to understand relationships with smart speakers.

The study was in line with the general consensus regarding smart speakers — easy to use, frustrating at times, and a product you don't know you need until you get it. The elderly and people with disabilities seemed to benefit the most from the smart speaker, especially those who lived alone.

There was no focus on a specific brand, although the study more biased Amazon and Google users due to their overwhelming market share.

In this study, there were 75 people with Amazon speakers, 28 with Google speakers, and 16 with other brands, including Apple's HomePod. The total is over 100 because some users had more than one brand.

Participants did not give any particular arguments in favor of choosing a speaker, except for the previous acquaintance with the product. Users chose Alexa speakers because they interacted with them in someone else's home, and many participants didn't think about privacy or brand loyalty.

Music led people to smart speakers, but use cases evolved

Most users said that speakers were bought for music but quickly came in handy for general inquiries or tasks such as timers. Most admitted to using the speaker more than they originally intended.

People with disabilities have mentioned the many useful features of smart speakers. For example, an autistic child communicating with a speaker, or a person with limited mobility asking questions or controlling lights without moving.

Users living alone said the smart speaker reduced their loneliness. This gave them the opportunity to interact or speak.

Disappointment with smart speakers was universal, regardless of brand, user age, or other factors. The speaker sometimes misunderstood commands, especially for users with accents, but none of the participants felt that these issues were a deal breaker.

Over the past decade, the use of smart speakers has evolved from a commonplace fad to a household appliance. The study concludes that while privacy concerns exist, people generally find smart speakers useful and positive for owners.

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