“When Apple announced in June its intention to deliver the HomePod by the end of the year, we were intrigued if not a bit puzzled over what took them so long to enter a market headed for billions of dollars in sales,” Bob Ankosko reports for Sound & Vision. “To learn more about the HomePod, which begins shipping February 9 at the premium price of $350, we reached out to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.”

A few snippets from Schiller:

We think we can create a new kind of music experience in the home that sounds incredible, and is fun to interact with. That’s what’s driving us with HomePod. And it can also be the hub for your smart home. Voice technologies like Siri are also gaining in popularity with Siri responding to over 2 billion requests each week. This helps us understand how people actually interact with their devices, what they ask, and helps us create a product for the home that makes sense.

When we set out to design HomePod, we knew we wanted to create a great music experience in the home. An intelligent speaker that is easy to set up and use, automatically adapts to its environment, and sounds amazing wherever you place it [a feature Apple calls spatial awareness] …And with advancements in Siri, and deep knowledge of your music preferences and tastes, HomePod understands what you want to listen to, when all you say is, “Hey Siri, play some music.”

From the moment you plug in HomePod and start listening to music, it automatically and instantly senses its location in the room to take full advantage of the environment it’s in… Using advanced software and the A8 chip, HomePod intelligently beams center vocals and direct energy away from the wall while reflecting the ambient reverb and back-up vocals against the wall for dispersion into the room. The end result is a wide soundstage with a feeling of spaciousness and depth. This entire process takes just seconds and it doesn’t stop with the initial setup. Every time you move HomePod, it uses the built-in accelerometer to detect a change in its location and continues to make sure the music sounds great and is consistent, wherever it’s placed.

The detection of “Hey Siri” happens on the device, so nothing is being sent to Apple until that trigger is detected and the Siri waveform lights up. At that time, the request is sent to Apple using an anonymous Siri ID, and of course that communication is all encrypted. We’re able to do this because we designed audio technology, advanced software, and Siri to work together as one system… With HomePod, you can do many of the same things you’re used to doing with Siri on iPhone, like turn on the lights, set scenes when you say good night or say “I’m home.” And again, one of the biggest benefits of HomeKit, is that it’s secure and private.

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re interested to see if Apple can really capitalize on their commitment to privacy or if it’ll take a major breach to wake up the majority of people or if even that would be enough to make privacy a real selling point.

Given how many gullible and/or ignorant people are willing to hand over their personal data for free to the likes of Google and Facebook (while mailing their DNA to other companies, no less), we’re not seeing Apple’s devotion to privacy as very salable versus the extra capabilities of other personal assistant from companies that wipe their feet on user privacy every second of the day.

BTW, only Apple can trumpet the importance of quality audio while shipping a speaker that’s incapable of being set up as a stereo pair out of the box*.

*Capability is “coming this year in a free software update.”

Apple’s Siri isn’t HomePod’s biggest problem – January 31, 2018
How Apple’s HomePod will handle software updates – January 30, 2018
What Apple’s HomePod 2 should offer – January 29, 2018
Apple debuts four commercials for HomePod’s debut – January 27, 2018
Apple’s HomePod is actually a steal at $349 – January 26, 2018
Digital Trends previews Apple’s HomePod: Impressive sound coupled with strong privacy – January 26, 2018
Hands on with Apple’s HomePod: Attractive, ultra-high-quality speaker, an excellent Siri ambassador – January 26, 2018
Apple’s HomePod, the iPod for your home – January 25, 2018
One hour with Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker – January 25, 2018
Apple’s iOS 11.3 beta delivers AirPlay 2 with multi-room playback – January 25, 2018
How Apple is positioning the HomePod and why – January 24, 2018
How I got talked into buying an Apple HomePod despite my reservations – January 24, 2018
Tim Cook says audio quality puts HomePod ahead of ‘squeaky-sounding’ competition – January 24, 2018
Apple’s HomePod arrives February 9th, available to order this Friday, January 26th – January 23, 2018
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017

[Attribution: The Loop. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]