Apple debuts HomePod speaker to bring Siri into the living room

Posted June 07, 2017

Apple is touting the fact that the HomePod is packed with drivers, delivering superior audio to the Amazon Echo and competitors like Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Home. It provides real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation. Citing "people familiar with the two companies", the report indicates that Amazon and Apple are "close to an agreement" that would bring Amazon's app to Apple's box sometime over the summer.

Apple's HomePod will not come cheap, with a debuting price of $349 (£270 / AU$465) when it releases later in December in the US, UK and Australia.

Why didn't Apple plug the virtual assistant features of the HomePod more? The better comparison, and the one we all should've made from the beginning, is to a Sonos Play:3 speaker. The Echo and Google Home both support third-party services and smart home appliances.

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HomePod's weapon of choice? Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG. Apple's announcement Monday had so much information that some compared it to a data dump. Other high-end systems, on the other hand, aren't connected and smart. Google already tries to be proactive with its Assistant on Android phones and Google Home speaker.

A set of iOS 11 features including enabling smartphone cameras to read QR codes are aimed at the China market, where Apple would like to bolster iPhone sales. They'll have no goal any more. It has been tested by some Apple employees in their homes for upwards of a year, according to people familiar with the matter.

I've described certain speakers "all flash and no thunder" in the past. Dubbed HomePod, the new speaker features voice control and spatial awareness to adapt the sound to different rooms.

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The HomePod is created to work exclusively with an Apple Music subscription and nothing else. It has an Apple A8 Chip inside that will intelligently sculpt sound to match the environment it's in.

The music business is alive an well - just in differences that it used to be. As Sia's The Greatest played out, the HomePod sounded impressive: strong bass rang out - which was perhaps the overriding audio takeaway for the speaker - but the vocals still seemed sharp and crisp.

The competition is hotting up in the home AI unit space and many Apple fans will be interested and excited to have access to a new device to add to the suite of gadgets they offer. The Home, for example, has a 2 inch driver and dual 2 inch passive radiators while the Echo uses one 2.0 inch tweeter and a built-in 2.5 inch woofer. The Sonos sounded OK, but the sound wasn't almost as rich as the HomePod [and] the Echo sounded like someone was singing through a tin can a mile away.

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