Xiaomi launches cheapest smart home speaker

Xiaomi Mi AI is the latest and the cheapest smart home speaker.

xiaomi mi ai speaker
Xiaomi launches Mi AI speaker in August. Xiaomi

Xiaomi is launching a new rival to Amazon Echo at a very affordable price. The Mi AI smart home speaker is hyped as an equally intelligent device of its kind at US$44 only.

Xiaomi Mi AI was first introduced on Wednesday as a direct competitor to Apple's HomePod and Amazon Echo, only that with thw former prospective buyers will save a tonne of cash. HomePod starts at US$349 and Amazon Echo at US$179.

The Chinese smart speaker stands tall in white coating with the Mi brand on it. It has six speakers embedded in the device to ensure it can hear instructions whichever side it is facing.

Like any other smart home speakers in the market, Xiaomi uses an artificial intelligence-based voice assistant to listen to all commands. Some of the highlighted Xiaomi Mi AI skills include music and radio streaming, weather forecasts, and news bits. By constantly speaking to the device, it will acquire skills for it to become more adept.

The device, however, will start rolling out from August in China through a beta program. Around 1,000 users will only be accommodated by the program for a minimal fee.

Xiaomi is inviting third-party developers to create apps for the speaker. It remains unannounced if the company is planning to release the device to international markets immediately after China.

In China's smartphone race, Xiaomi was able to dislodge Apple as the fourth best-selling smartphone vendor. According to a new report of analytics firm Canalys, Xiaomi has shipped 15 million units of its smartphone models in the second quarter of 2017 in China, which is 60 percent higher than the first quarter of the year.

Apple is now at the fifth place. Rounding up in the list are Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo in the first three spots. These companies have consistently been leading the Chinese smartphone market in the last few months.

This article was first published on July 28, 2017