Set to launch on 9th of February, Apple enters into speakers segment with HomePod.
Apple places this product as a powerful speaker first rather than a smart speaker which other makers these days are releasing, for example the leader Amazon’s Echo has an Alexa smart assistant, Google has got Google Home and Invoke by Microsoft.
However it does not mean there is no digital assistant in HomePod. HomePod has Siri built in of course, that can answer your basic queries like how is the weather or turn on or off the lights for smart home. Apple Music is also baked into the product, obviously.
HomePod has a custom A8 chip that is like the brain of the speaker system. It does some of the acrobats, like real time modeling of the woofer mechanics, upmixing of both direct and ambient audio, beamforming so the microphone can hear you over the music and echo cancelling. The HomePod includes seven tweeters at the bottom, six microphone in the middle and high excursion woofer at the top.
Apple writes, HomePod is wrapped in a seamless mesh fabric designed for both aesthetic and acoustic performance. Available in white and space gray, it’s gorgeous from every angle — yet virtually transparent to the music. And at just under seven inches tall, it can fit anywhere in your home.
HomePod also automatically analyzes the acoustics, adjusts the sound based on the location of the speaker, and separates the music into direct and ambient sound.
You can invoke Siri from the top of HomePod which displays similar waveform animation that is found in iOS 11 for the iPhone. You can:
- Tap to Play or pause
- Double tap to skip forward
- Triple tap to skip back
- Tap and hold to talk to Siri
HomePod is mostly targeted for Apple ecosystem as it refuses to work with Android devices, or cannot play music via Bluetooth, does not support other music streaming services like Spotify, Audible (for audiobooks), Pandora, TuneIn Radio and many other.
Apple has tightly integrated Apple Music to HomePod but leaving out many other popular services which does not make sense. But Apple being Apple, one cannot expect anything less.
You can however stream music via AutoPlay, once 3rd Party apps are updated to support and recognize HomePod in their apps.
HomePod is close to release and I will watch closely what the tech pundits say about it. I will be purchasing this device as soon as it hits Kenyan markets and will be writing a detail review about the product.