Apple has revealed the expected “Siri Speaker” that was rumoured to be announced at WWDC 2017. Called the HomePod, the device is the exact Amazon Echo competitor that people expected it to be.
The HomePod stands seven inches tall and is covered in a mesh fabric cover. It ends up looking like some sort of technological bird nest, which isn’t too bad. Although it doesn’t quite feel like an Apple device given how low-key it looks.
Powering the HomePod is an A8 processor, like the ones found in past generations of the iPhone. This is necessary for Siri, which forms the heart of the voice command interface. Like similar devices, users activate the HomePod by saying “hey Siri” and the having a conversation with it. Nothing exceptionally new in that respect.
What is new is that the HomePod is spatially aware. Adjusting the quality of the audio to make the most of the room it’s set in. Apple hasn’t explained how it works, but there was a pre-recorded demonstration showing how this would work in a regular home setting.
Naturally, the HomePod comes integrated with Apple Music. Seeing that one company controls both these products. Still, there was no mention if there will be compatibility with other music streaming services. We doubt that this will happen, considering that Spotify and the others are literally the competition, but it would be nice to have some measure of choice in the matter.
As expected, the HomePod can also pull information like the news, traffic updates, reminders, and messages for the owner to listen. It also has Apple HomeKit integration, allowing it to control smart devices running on the HomeKit SDK. Kind of like what Google has been trying to push with Google Home.
The last thing that Apple emphasised with the HomePod is the privacy setting. Which is something that the company has been putting a lot of effort into lately. Essentially, the HomePod will not be connected to its server before being asked to process an instruction. The listening for the activation command will be done locally, and any requests will be done using an anonymous HomePod ID.
The HomePod will sell for $349, and is shipping to the US, UK, and Australia in December. The rest of the world will have to wait until next year to see it.