The wait is finally over! We can now put any and all rumors to rest as Apple has today taken the wraps off its Siri-powered speaker during the keynote speech at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Called HomePod, this is Cupertino’s Amazon Echo competitor — which is little too late to the party. But instead of focusing on the AI voice assistant capabilities, Apple has decided to market the speaker as a music-first product.
Talking about this speaker, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Marketing said:
Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes.
Taking a direct aim at both audio speakers and smart speakers available in the market, Apple mentioned that they are neither good at one job nor the other. This is the quirk that Cupertino aims to fix with the release of HomePod, which is said to have adapted the best qualities of both and built upon the same. Thus, it should be the best speaker offering the utmost best voice assistant service to users.
The device, as the rumor mill suggested, has an uncanny resemblance to the Mac Pro — everyone’s beloved trash can-shaped CPU system. It includes a four-inch custom-designed woofer and seven beam-forming tweeters, which are backed by the company’s A8 processor. The prominent features of the speaker include multi-channel echo cancellation, real-time acoustic modeling, and others.
While real-time acoustic modeling, also known as automatic room-sensing technology, will enable the speaker to learn its position in the room and optimize the music listening experience based on the same. The echo-cancellation technology, on the other hand, will enable the HomePod to listen to you even in extremely noisy surroundings.
While we’ve been talking about the audio capabilities of the HomePod, it also packs within the smarts of Apple’s widely-known AI voice assistant — Siri. As one expects from such assistants, Siri is also capable enough to ‘send out messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices.’ The speaker will work hand-in-hand with Apple Music to serve as the perfect musicologist — surfacing new songs based on your recent plays and mood.
The speaker will also act as the perfect home hub, which will be accessible via the iPhone or iPad — now that HomeKit has support for the same. It includes an array of six microphones (Amazon Echo packs seven whereas Google Home includes just two), so users can interact with it from across the room, even while loud music is playing. You can even ask Siri about the band, its members, and anything else related to the same.
But, that’s the usual functioning of an AI-powered assistant but has been added to Siri only time around. By downplaying the value of Siri and not placing it as the central focus for the HomePod, Apple has clearly suggested that it still has apprehensions about the capabilities of its voice assistant — which was once the first and most robust assistant on the market. Too many competitors, as well as innovative technology, has pushed Apple to the backfoot as it places intense focus on perfection, thus, missing out on huge timely opportunities.
In short, the HomePod speaker can be described as under:
HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a beautiful speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion-free music and be a helpful assistant around your home.
Apple has presently only shown off its cylindrical, mesh-covered smart speaker on stage at WWDC, it is not quite ready to make its way into the home of Pro-Apple (most likely) consumers as of yet. It will only be ready to ship out to consumers later this very year, maybe alongside the newest iPhone lineup — expected to be unveiled in Summer this year.
The HomePod, which will be released in white and space grey color variants, will cost you $349, which is significantly higher than its rival speakers such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others, which cost less than $200.