Apple shows off HomePod Siri speaker

Joanna Estrada
June 10, 2017

And say what you will about the HomePod name itself, or whether or not a superior audio experience will even be able to lure buyers away from the more wallet-friendly Echo and Google Home, it's hard not to marvel at the engineering resources Apple poured into its forthcoming smart speaker.

Apple Inc. introduced Monday a music speaker, its first new hardware since Apple Watch was rolled out two years ago, at an annual gathering of software developers. Amazon and Google's smart speakers are only sold inside the USA, though quite a few Kiwis have DIY-imported one or the other.

Apple has a higher price point than its competitors.

Onstage, Apple's worldwide head of marketing, Phil Schiller, described how the speaker analyzes the song it's playing and adjusts its output.

When Does the HomePod Go on Sale?

Additionally, the speaker has a spatial awareness capability, allowing it to tune itself to best fill whatever kind of space it's being used in. We're not sure just yet.

The moves announced Monday escalate Apple's technological battle of wits with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

Apple is taking privacy pretty seriously on this one. United States pricing is $349, global pricing information will come a bit later.

To be "smart", the latest product in Apple's portfolio, known as HomePod, comes with a A8 microprocessor chip, the same power engine in the technology company's flagship iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet computer.

Apple is officially jumping into the home speaker market.

How Much Does the HomePod Cost?

Apple says that the HomePod will launch in December (available in grey and white), although we expect South Africa to probably follow in the new year. The HomePod is also tied in to the Apple Homekit, so you can talk to the speaker to interact with other HomeKit accessories. But Apple did not announce support for third party voice skills, like Amazon and Google offer with their smart speakers. The new speaker was marketed with an emphasis on how the device sounds, and is aimed at the enthusiast audiophile who wants good audio quality and ease of use, rather than a hub for kitchen timers and news updates.

Apple was keen to play up the HomePod's sound quality, talking up its seven beam-forming tweeters and real-time sound modelling to help it manage bass according to your room's shape.

Price/Features: Full worldwide HomePod pricing hasn't been shared by Apple yet however, we do know the speaker will be priced at $349 in the US. The highs were sharp, but not broken. Siri can also handle advanced searches within the music library, so users can ask questions like "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?" or create a shared Up Next queue with everyone in the home. 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.

Nevertheless, HomePod sports a six-mic array to respond to natural language commands, putting a toe in the water of the smart-speaker market Amazon dominates.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER