Apple may be ready to catch up to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home speaker. The speaker can automatically tune the audio depending on the space you are in. HomePod's room-equalisation feature sounds very similar to Sonos' TruePlay, but Sonos is relying on Amazon's Alexa for voice control. Acoustic modelling optimises the sound depending on where the speaker is placed. You can control the speaker with Siri by telling it what to play, marking favorites, and even asking it detailed questions about the music that's playing. Some industry insiders, however, note Apple will be under more pressure to improve the computing smarts of its Siri software in the face of offerings from rivals Google and Amazon. Six microphones mean Siri can understand speech from a variety of distances. Moreover, it has a seven-tweeter array that gauges the sound quality and multi-channel echo cancellation. And when factoring that HomePod comes equipped with the A8 chip, the same processor found in the iPhone 6 from 2016.
Apple's WWDC keynote was packed full of big announcements yesterday. The conference ends on June 9. Apple was nearly sheepish in mentioning that, yes, Siri on the HomePod can do most of the usual Siri things like make appointments, find sports scores, and send messages.
"Apple justified the price by positioning HomePod as a high-end speaker rather than a virtual assistant, which is smart", she said.
It also has a "Musicologist" feature for streaming Apple Music through commands barked at Siri, as well as being able to answer queries about the song playing, such as 'who is the guitarist?' and so on.
HomePod capped a keynote presentation that included updates to Apple's iPad and Mac laptop lines, and upgraded operating software enabling augmented reality for iPhones and iPads. The HomePod is expected to be available in the US, UK and Australia by December before opening up to other markets later. But of course, it has Apple branding, so that's an early sign of its success.
"From our standpoints it's a little different philosophically than how we are looking at Echo", he told a group of reporters at the Wired Business Conference in NY.
Apple's speaker will launch this December in white or gray and will cost $349.
Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said on stage that the product has been in the works for "years". Other countries will get HomePods next year.