Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker

Apple today announced HomePod, a breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers amazing audio quality and uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio. Designed to work with an Apple Music subscription for access to over 40 million songs, HomePod provides deep knowledge of personal music preferences and tastes and helps users discover new music. HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with incredible directional control and powerful technologies built right in to preserve the richness and intent of the original recordings. HomePod will be available starting in December, initially in Australia, the UK and the US.

“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, in a statement. “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.”

Apple's all-new HomePod
Apple’s all-new HomePod

 
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.

As a home assistant, HomePod is a great way to send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades or activate a scene. When away from home, HomePod is the perfect home hub, providing remote access and home automations through the Home app on iPhone or iPad.

 
Audio Innovation & Advanced Technologies

At just under 7 inches tall, HomePod represents years of hardware and software innovation:

– Apple-designed upward-facing woofer, paired with the custom A8 chip, enables bass management through real-time software modeling that ensures the speaker delivers the deepest and cleanest bass possible, with low distortion;

– custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters, each with its own amplifier, provides well-balanced smooth timbre as well as precise directional control of a multitude of beam shapes and sizes;

– Apple-designed A8 chip provides the brains behind the advanced audio innovations;

– automatic room-sensing technology allows HomePod to quickly learn its position in a room, whether it’s in a corner, on a table or in a bookshelf, and within seconds, is perfectly optimized to deliver an immersive music listening experience wherever it is placed;

– six-microphone array with advanced echo cancellation enables Siri to understand people whether they are near the device or standing across the room, even while loud music is playing;

– Siri waveform appears on the top to indicate when Siri is engaged, and integrated touch controls also allow easy navigation;

– automatic detection and balance of two speakers using both direct and reflected audio to deliver amazing audio wirelessly for an even more immersive experience; and

– easy setup that is as intuitive as setting up AirPods — simply hold an iPhone next to HomePod and it’s ready to start playing music in seconds.

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.

Pricing and Availability

HomePod will be available for $349 (US) in white and space gray starting in December initially in Australia, the UK and the US.* HomePod is compatible with iPhone 5s and later, running iOS 11.

* Pricing in Australia and the UK will be announced later this year.

Source: Apple Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: That is a surprisingly low price for such a device. Apple’s HomePods will sell like hotcakes!

73 Comments

    1. I guess its popularity will depend on whether its actually going to replace a surround system or be in one’s Home office away from everything else..

      Course trying to hear one, when available, in an Apple Store will be a challenge, unless they actually intend to make an enclosed listening area for one.

      1. Re: date…a missed opp to not have ready early/mid fall. Of all the news today, this tops the items fitting for a Christmas gift. Maybe Apple has under-promised, but will over deliver.

      2. Wow where is this fantasy world of his where everyone has a top quality surround sound system or indeed have one but wouldn’t be able to afford an additional device like this that is so much more flexible than that system as and when needed. The residents of cloud cuckoo land aren’t even that lacking in vision.

      1. I can’t speak to your needs and desires, but in our bedroom is a clock radio that already has an iPhone dock. It is infinitely more useful than this thread bobbin thing. I don’t think we’ll waste the space on this music rental interface.

        1. Really, a clock radio is more useful than this even though you haven’t even tested it as yet to make a comparison. Those long retired designers of the clock radio must be throwing their dementia medicine in the air to hear that fulsome praise of their work.

    2. If the pairing sucks as much is the AirPods do which constantly have to be re-paired what a joke this will be. . Then throw dumbass Siri into the mixed and it will be a big mess in space gray or white. Lol

      1. I have never had to re-pair my AirPods – these things pair and work better than anything else out there.. Maybe you have one part that is defective?

        1. I switch my AirPods between iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro, and I have endless problems with the pairing. Sometimes when I take both out to talk to someone, the phone defaults back to playing through the phone speaking, and I have to manually re-select the AirPods. And sometimes have to do that twice before it “takes.”

          1. Well, I don’t think this is a failure of the Airpods. If I am in my living room with my iPhone, iPad, MBook, and Apple TV, my Beats BT (with the same chip) doesn’t know which of the multiple devices it is paired with is the one I want to listen to. I have to tell whichever device I want to connect to PowerBeats. The devices all perfectly paired and ready for action; I just have select which device I want to hear. Maybe at some point the “ears” will be able know what device has my attention, but they can’t do that now, and I don’t know of any BT headphones can.

  1. New for 2017: Hi Fi Mono Sound, in the comfort of your own home!!!

    Apple dives to the lowest rung on the audio ladder. No single device, no matter how many speakers it has, is going to sound great. Unless it gets lazy, Sonos should not have anything to worry about.

    This is just an Apple Music interface intended to push more people into renting music. The herd mentality just never dies. Apple claims it has so many songs but all that these services push ad nauseum is the usual overproduced big label payola.

    One plug a Mac or iPad into any decent stereo system for the price of a wire, and it will sound 1000% percent better.

    1. I am very reluctant to claim that something would sound better or worse than some hing Lear before actually hearing both. Based on the engineering, though, I suspect this thing will sound quite well. Perhaps not as good as a $1,000 home theatre system, but that would be unrealistic to expect. It would likely sound better than the cheapo $400 home theatre packages from Best Buy.

      I can’t remember when was the last time I saw anyone listening to stereo sound the way it should be (with speakers separated at the distance equivalent to the distance from the listener). Those Bose, Sonos or JBL “stereo” Bluetooth bricks (or pills) are ridiculous. The L / R speakers are barely inches apart, there is literally no discernible stereo image.

      1. Firstly, for all you nay-sayers out there – RELAX!

        You haven’t even been in the same room as the product, let alone heard the sound quality so NO ONE on this forum is qualified to rip it to shreds!

        Secondly, for the people saying the sound quality will be crap – re-watch the keynote! Phil Schiller said that you can have many of these in a room so if you want you can have quad sound!

        Thirdly, you’ve all missed the point of this product.

        It’ a HOMW HUB. As this device develops it will be the centre for everything connected to your Mac, your home, your entertainment.

        Apple will also open it up to developers so expect an announcement at WWDC18 announcing ‘Homepod kit’!

        This is version 1.0 of a new platform for Apple that will be expanded on – think VR!!!!

        For example you could ask home hub “show me photos of Washington” and it could project VR images of Washington.

        The scope and potential of this device is absolutely massive!

    2. This speaker system also interfaces with Siri. It also interfaces with all HomeKit devices. Yes, they probably want more people to rent music, but I’d say it’s just as much a stealth attempt to get a voice activated home control device into the house.

      1. So does the iPhone I already own.

        So what does this little thing do that any decent Airplay compatible speaker setup doesn’t already do?

        This speaker at least offers stereo speaker separation:

  2. I like the idea of it, but since I already have a Bluetooth Bose speaker and Siri is already on my phone… I don’t personally feel compelled to buy one.

  3. I didn’t realise there are people who still have surround systems in their homes. Well, those most likely won’t be replaced by this device (nor do I think Apple really wants to do that).

    People of my generation grew up coveting high-end stereo systems. In our middle age, we were putting together home theatres with surround sound.

    Today’s young and middle-aged folks have Bose soundbars under their TVs and can’t be bothered by multiple speakers, wires (or wireless setups), receivers/power amps, more wires…

    This home speaker is for them. It is a pretty large market. And if it ‘rocks the house’ (as Schiller implied), it will be what a stereo system was for people of my generation (and older, like Botvinnik here).

    1. When listening to Crapple Music’s 128 AAC Lossy Files you do not need a good speaker. That is what Beats d.b.a Apple Music streams.

      I have CDs ripped to iTunes in Apple Lossless and have a nice set of Focals hooked up which sound very nice and a set of B&W Headphones.

      The two questions I have yet to see answered are these:
      1- Can you stream to these as an AirPlay device?
      2- Will a pair of these work with an Apple TV as the sound system?

      If it is just linked to rental music no thank you.

        1. Compressed, DRMed, low bitrate is not quality and not worth $10 a month. Apple under Tim Cook has turned into another company that wants to scratch your wallet every month like clockwork.

  4. Another Apple let down. They didn’t even sell it as a smart speaker at all, the new Siri capabilities were underwhelming too, they don’t seem to want to promise too much. We were hoping for an Alexa competitor and what we got was an Apple Music accessory. Hey, at least Siri has a new voice!

  5. I am buying two. I used to have two huge Infinity tower speakers. Bigger is not necessarily better. My current surrround system has four tiny speakers a sub woofer and a center speaker. And sure when I am properly seated, they sound great. But most of the time, I end up listening to JBL Bluetooth speakers for the convenience.

    1. Keep your old Hi Fi system. I could be wrong, but I strongly suspect this Home Pod thing will not allow you to plug in a server with your own music, or play back any other source besides what Apple serves you.

      As for the fidelity of sound: it is true that bigger is not necessarily better, but in audio, that is predominantly the case. Ultimately, a speaker needs to move air in order to create sound. A dinky speaker array does that very poorly, especially when the speakers are all in one point of the room.

      You have only begun down the audiophile journey. For next to nothing, you can now buy lightly used audio equipment that will amaze you. Don’t be tempted by cheap and easy noisemakers. A proper hi fi system is a lifetime investment, you can upgrade components as your budget or living situation allows, and even the casual listener can sense the dramatic difference. And if Apple Music is what you must have, your real amp with real speakers will make that sound better in every way than a HomePod or Bluetooth speaker ever could. My brother has his audio system set up so that his music, archived on a NAS, is playing on his Klipsch speakers before he even walks in the door. A touch of his iPhone will bring up any music he has ripped from his enormous CD collection acquired since ~1985.

      A desktop $350 device will not do anything like that. You will talk, shout, and argue with it, but you can’t have a nice playlist shown to you on the coffee table iPad. And then to top it all off, your $350 device will have have enormous distortion and bandwidth limitations. It will have no bottom end. The drummer’s cymbals will sound like static instead of a crisp response. The speaker typically introduces more distortion than any other component in a modern sound system fed with digital source material. That’s okay by some people. Some people care more about their home decorating than the quality of sound they hear. They just don’t have an ear for detailed music, a common problem with much of the overproduced electronic crap that we hear everywhere now. It’s a real shame.

      I see this HomePod thing as Apple’s attempt to lure people down a path of forever renting music. People who own these dinky speakers will never know truly high fidelity music. They will never inherently set up their room to naturally take advantage of (or solve problems with) the acoustics of the room. They will never hear the billions of deep cuts from old artists that are unavailable on Apple Music, or in any nondigital form. These people will never hear the full dynamic range of an SACD, DVD-A, AIFF, ALAC, or FLAC file with speakers that can actually recreate the whole acoustic range with a very low noise floor. They will never feel the bass. They will never hear the “flaws” of a live concert recording. Apple Music provides computerized overproduced commercial shlock. When you stop paying your monthly fee, the noise stops.

      Don’t fall for false economy and false convenience. If you care about music, collect it and own it. Play it back on a system that sounds great. It music matters, act like it really does.

    1. You may think its ugly but I can guarantee the sound is far superior that Googles and Amazon’s offerings.

      Why?

      Because every in of the device is a speaker!

      There is no solid panels around the sides which will dampen sound quality and volume.

      The design is totally right for what the device is, you may think it’s ugly but I bet the sound quality will wipe the ass off the others!

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