Apple-designed Smart Speaker
Apple’s previously announced HomePod will finally arrive in stores beginning Friday, February 9, 2018 and can be pre-ordered two weeks earlier in the US, UK and Australia. HomePod is Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo Plus and Google Home Max. It’s a wireless speaker with Siri ready to take voice commands. What is expected to set HomePod apart from Echo is sound quality, as it should for over double the price. However, the Sonos-killer feature, multi-room audio support won’t work until a future (date unknown) software update enables it.
HomePod is controlled by your voice. Just say “Hey Siri” to wake it up. In addition to playing music, it can send a message, set a timer, play a podcast, check the news, sports, traffic and weather, and even control a wide range of HomeKit smart home accessories. HomePod can also be used as a speakerphone with iPhone for crisp and clear audio quality. That’s something Echo can’t.
“HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple. It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalog and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, beautiful design that is so much fun to use. We’re so excited for people to get HomePod into their homes, apartments and businesses to hear it for themselves. We think they will be blown away by the audio quality. The team has worked to give Siri a deeper knowledge of music so that you can ask to play virtually anything from your personal favorites to the latest chart-topping releases, simply by saying ‘Hey Siri.”Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing
Packed with Apple-engineered audio technology, HomePod uses advanced software for real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, echo cancellation and more, powered by Apple’s A8 chip, delivering a wide, spacious soundstage. Using spatial awareness to sense its location in the room, it automatically adjusts the audio to sound great wherever it is placed.
HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with directional control, and powerful technologies that preserve the richness and intent of original recordings. With an array of six microphones, HomePod can hear “Hey Siri” from across the room, even when loud music is playing.
Setup is as easy and intuitive as setting up AirPods — simply hold an iPhone next to HomePod and it’s ready to start playing music in seconds. The Siri waveform appears on the top to indicate when Siri is engaged, and integrated touch controls also allow easy navigation.
HomePod is designed to work with an Apple Music subscription for access to hundreds of genres, moods and activities. It also learns preferences and tastes that are shared across devices. Using Siri to deliver deep knowledge of artists, songs, albums and more, HomePod can handle advanced searches within Apple Music’s catalog, so users can ask questions like, “Hey Siri, when was this song released?” or “Hey Siri, can you play something totally different?” to change the mood. Apple Music subscribers can enjoy a catalog of more than 45 million songs, combined with their entire iTunes library, for online or offline listening — completely ad-free.
With support for HomeKit, HomePod can control hundreds of home accessories or set scenes like, “Hey Siri, I’m home,” to control a number of different accessories at the same time. HomePod can turn on the lights, raise the shades, set the desired temperature or make other adjustments and serves as the perfect home hub, enabling remote access and automations.
Through SiriKit, HomePod supports third-party messaging apps, so users can ask Siri to send a message to a friend or colleague using apps like WhatsApp. Reminders, note-taking and to-do list apps like Things and Evernote will automatically work with HomePod, so Siri can set reminders, create a new list, mark items as complete, or create and modify notes. For developers interested in adding SiriKit support, more information is available at developer.apple.com/sirikit.
Coming this year in a free software update, users will be able to play music throughout the house with multi-room audio. If HomePod is in the kitchen, users can ask Siri to play jazz in the dining room, or play the same song in each room — perfectly in sync. If there’s more than one HomePod set up in the same room, the speakers can be set up as a stereo pair for an even more immersive sound experience.
For security and privacy Apple claims nothing is sent to Apple servers until after “Hey Siri” is recognized locally on HomePod. When information is sent, it’s encrypted and uses an anonymous Siri identifier.
Pricing and Availability
HomePod is available at an Apple retail price of $349 (US) in white and space gray in the US, UK and Australia and available to order beginning Friday, January 26, from apple.com and the Apple Store app. HomePod will be available in Apple Stores and at select Apple Authorized Resellers, including Best Buy in the US; Argos, Dixons Carphone (Currys PC World), John Lewis, Shop Direct (Very and Littlewoods), EE and Apple Premium Resellers in the UK; and The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra in Australia, beginning Friday, February 9, 2018. HomePod will be available in France and Germany this spring.
HomePod is compatible with iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation) with iOS 11.2.5 or later.