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 find it interesting that it won’t be available until almost the beginning of next year depending on when in December it becomes available Boy, how did Apple get so far behind? This announcement was made to try to “freeze” the marketplace. I think I like the design and don’t find the speaker ugly at all. Don’t be fooled, it is being made to go after Google and the like. Music is just the ticket into the door.

    1. If the aim is to get a foot in the door by being a ‘music’ first device, how would it be more convenient than getting a bluetooth speaker that paired with your iphone/ipad? Seems it would lose a portability advantage if Siri constantly needs to have a wireless connection.

      I think Apple will be forced to compete head-on with Echo and Google Home from the get-go or suffer poor (relatively) sales.

      1. Yep – History has proved countless times that the company who is first rarely makes the money.

        Sony Walkman > iPod is a prime example!

        I will be definitely be getting one for my house.

  2. First, I have been an Apple lover and user since 1988 as well as a stockholder for many years.

    I hope I am completely wrong, but this does not look like a good strategy. They are charging double the cost of an Amazon Echo to serve a very similar purpose. And the Echo already does it very well. People are not unhappy with it.

    When the iPod came to market, there were already plenty of MP3 players. But the iPod provided a far superior experience, so Apple could charge more. It was a game changing device.

    Amazon and Google already have their home devices. People love the Amazon Echo and say Alexa is great. It has great functionality and it just works. It’s open to developers and gains new apps and functionality all the time.

    Now Apple comes along and announces the HomePod. It serves the same purpose as the Amazon Echo ($180) or Google Home ($130) but uses Siri. Apple is charging $350.

    They are coming to the game late. There is already a very strong and well liked competitor on the market, and Apple is charging double. It also looks like their design and interface isn’t radically different than the Echo.

    With the iPod, there wasn’t a super popular player already dominating the market at a good price. The iPod was worth the extra cost for the experience it provided. I’m not sure this is the same situation. Apple’s device isn’t significantly different, and there is already a popular model that works well.

    If Apple announced it at $199, I could understand it. But $350?

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I underestimate how well it will integrate into the Apple ecosystem and how much people want that. It’s main selling point is Apple Music. I don’t use Apple Music and have no intention of ever using Apple Music.

    I understand they may be charging more for high quality sound components. I’m afraid they may be misunderstanding the appeal of the device. Most people probably prefer good sound quality on a $150 voice-assisted device over great quality on a $350 voice-assisted device. We’ll see.

    The iPod, iPhone, and iPad were unique enough to revolutionize their markets. This looks like a “me too”.

    1. This opinion of yours is exactly inline with the negative opinions coming from people when those other products were introduced. The iPod, iPhone and iPad were all also considered “me too” products. And they were all very expensive and didn’t do anything that other products didn’t already do.

      I don’t think Apple cares if it out sells the other “Smart” speakers – it doesn’t need to. As I’ve always said, Apple doesn’t really need this product. In case anyone missed it, there are currently 375 million iOS devices from which Siri is used regularly.

      This product is about mindshare, not marketshare. Now whenever anyone talks about “smart” speakers, Apple’s name will be mentioned, when it wasn’t before.

  3. I currently have an Amazon Echo, and was excited to see Apple’s version of the home assistant, as most Apple lovers. But, I will wait to see more features before I commit to purchase the HomePod. I was not very impressed with the price, nor the features shown at today’s WWDC. I hope more information will be revealed before the HomePod appears in the Apple Store.

  4. So Amazon and Google still have home systems that can order food, delivery pizza and do other things and Apple just gives us a music speaker of which there are tons out there already. WHAT A LET DOWN

  5. Apple has been notoriously poor at audio products. This one is no different.

    Years ago, self-promoter audio charlatan Tomlinson Holman went to “work” at Apple – hired by Steve Jobs when Holman was retained to advise Jobs on an audio system for his new yacht.

    This is the best Holman could come up with after all these years? And it isn’t THX Approved?

  6. $350!! Come on people! $350!!! Really?? Apple does not care about its customers… Apple cares about Apple…. Wake up people! $350 for a Bluetooth speaker???

    What am I missing besides Apple logo?

    My $100 Google Home sounds awesome

    1. The Home’s audio quality is greatly dependent on placement. After much experimentation I found that it works best backed up to a wall under kitchen cabinets – really directs the sound out. I’m not a fan of bass-heavy systems, but the Echo sounded so tinny and didn’t work well unless it was placed in the middle of a room.

  7. I am the biggest Apple fan there is. I have been using computers since 1984. I have never owned a Windows PC or used Windows. All of my devices are Apple.

    That being said, the HomePod would sell well at $199. It could take over the market at $99.

    At $350, it will go the way of the iPod Hi-Fi.

  8. The negatives comments here are reminiscent of comments after Steve Jobs introduced the iPod.

    Everyone thinks their personal experiences, needs, and tastes are the same as everyone else’s and project that as a failure of the product.

    Turns out, they were wrong. There were people that actually bought an iPod, just as there will be people who buy this.

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