The Apple HomePod was introduced today bringing Apple into the world of the smart speaker. If the Google Home looks like an air freshener, the HomePod looks a bit like a ball of yarn. Still, it’s not unattractive and certainly is nicer looking than the Google Home (that is a personal taste matter of course). This speaker can do what you would expect a smart speaker to do, play music, set reminders, and activate Siri. Apple also says the little speaker features spatially aware software and is running on the Apple A8 chip.
“Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “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.”
HomePod is designed for voice control with an array of six microphones, so users can interact with it from across the room, even while loud music is playing. By saying, “Hey Siri, I like this song,” HomePod and Apple Music become the perfect musicologist, learning preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across tens of thousands of playlists, and these music tastes are shared across devices. 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. HomePod, Apple Music, and Siri deliver the best music experience in the home that streams ad-free directly to HomePod.
Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of Apple hardware, software and services. With HomePod, only after “Hey Siri” is recognized locally on the device will any information be sent to Apple servers, encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier.
The Apple HomePod will be available for purchase in December for $349USD, which is a pretty high price for such a small speaker. The Google Home and Amazon Echo are both priced below that but we still don’t know the sound differences and capabilities between them.