Apple announced HomePod, a home speaker at WWDC 2017. The assistant speaker or rather “musicologist” as Apple likes to call it will not be available for sale until December, and it is unclear if the device will ever debut in India. The rumoured home speaker was imminent, and we saw multiple leaks well before the event. Apple broke tradition to announce a new device instead of sticking to just software at WWDC 2017. With this new device, Apple’s overall message is clear – Apple HomePod is here to take on Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Apple HomePod will initially be available only in US, UK and Australia starting December, and in the US it will retail for $349 (approximately Rs 22,500). The device will be available in white and space grey colors. The price of Apple’s HomePod is quite high when compared to rivals Google Home and Amazon Echo, but the device is distinct in terms of offerings too. Apple HomePod can be paired with Apple iPhone 5s and above, and any devices running iOS 11. Let us take a look at some of the features of the HomePod.
Apple speaker has a distinct design when compared to rivals, and the HomePod speaker is cylindrical in shape with a complete speaker mesh grille covering. There are no visible controls on the device but it does register touch on top and the volume can be controlled directly. Users can also play or pause tracks directly from the speaker. The top does have an LED display that shows waveform, when a command is issued so the user knows Siri is active and listening. The speaker is 6.8-inch tall, 5.6-inch wide, and weighs 2.5kg. ALSO READ: WWDC 2017: Social media reacts to iOS 11, Apple HomePod and more
The speaker houses Apple’s A8 chip along with a sub-woofer at the top. The woofer comes with a deep bass, which Apple claims enhances sound. Additionally, there are seven tweeters, which help streamlining music better so the overall audio output quality is enhanced. The cylindrical HomePod is fitted with six microphones that capture and respond to ‘Hey Siri’ commands. The speaker filters out any other commands other than ‘Hey Siri’ pre-fixed ones making the results more accurate.
How does the HomePod work
Setting up the HomePod requires just placing a functional iPhone running iOS 11 next to the HomePod.
The Apple HomePod, being a combination of a speaker and a home assistant functions as both. Apple’s self-designed woofer with the A8 chip integration works on the bass. However, the work of the seven tweeters embedded inside the speaker is to effectively separate sound, and the six microphones help understand the shape and size of the room to adjust audio output better. In simple terms, each of the seven tweeters each come with an amplifier and control the directional beaming of music. Apple HomePod separates each aspect of music like the background, the vocals, and beams them separately to different parts of the room to make the overall effect more appealing. The core, central parts are delivered straight to the center of the room while the other parts are beamed out directionally and distributed in the background. ALSO READ: WWDC 2017: iOS 11 ‘Files’ app goes official, supports Dropbox, third-party cloud services
Also, the speaker comes with automatic room sensing technology so even if it’s position in the room changes, it can quickly adapt and change performance accordingly. The six microphones come with noise cancellation, which Apple claims is strong for Siri to understand and respond to commands even from someone across the room issuing them with loud music in the background. Apple HomePod can also work in collaboration with a second HomePod speaker to enhance the quality of music. Additionally, spatial awareness helps it understand the change in room size or position to adapt output accordingly. Apple HomePod works with Apple Music Subscription, and since the speaker comes with Siri integration, it slowly understands and learns behavior over time, suggesting songs and playing tracks as per individual choice.
As a Home Assistant, HomePod comes with the Home app on iPhone and iPad to let users control home-based tasks remotely. HomePod can respond to all Siri commands like switching off lights in the room or providing information about the weather. The HomePod can be taught to understand likes and dislikes through Siri commands.