Apple has announced at WWDC 2017 to launch a smart home speaker called HomePod to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.
Amazon, with the Echo, launched a device that lets you play music and look up basic information along with controlling your lighting. Now Apple has launched the HomePod that combines Apple-engineered audio technology and advanced software to deliver the highest-fidelity sound throughout the room, irrespective of its location.
HomePod is wrapped in a seamless mesh fabric designed for an acoustic performance. It is available in two colours- black and white yet virtually transparent to the music.
The speaker has a seven-inch-tall canister, six microphones and an A8 chip that does all the fancy audio engineering including real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam forming and echo cancellation. The array of seven beam forming tweeters creates an immersive sense of space. It can play music from Apple Music, recite you the news, do unit conversions, send messages, schedule reminders, set timers, translate, check stocks, answer trivia questions, and tell you what the traffic is like. It is also powered by the Siri voice assistant who according to Apple has been trained to be better at answering questions about music and responds to the touch as a tap on the top can play, pause, or adjust the volume. The top also shows you when Siri is listening, with a LED waveform which animates with your every word.
The HomePod starts shipping later this year in the U.S, U.K. and Australia and will be available in other countries next year. It costs $349 and is expensive as compared to Google Home at $129 and Amazon Echo at $180, but the speaker quality may justify the higher price. Regardless of its price, there are enough Apple fans that are likely hungry for a product like this.