Apple's HomePod Puts Siri in a Speaker

Posted June 08, 2017

Like those other products it is created to be a digital home assistant, capable of answering questions about maths as well as music-related enquiries - but it comes with some Apple quirks.

The HomePod, to be launched later this year, has six microphones built into it and is powered by Apple's smart assistant Siri.

Not shy of making bold claims, Apple claim HomePod is a "breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers fantastic audio quality".

"It's the biggest brain inside a speaker", Apple marketing head Phil Schiller proclaimed.

And, claiming that he wants to "reinvent home music", Cook unveiled the HomePod speaker.

As Apple explains it, the HomePod "uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio" to enhance the quality. Siri also allows users to check on the weather, the news, and even control HomeKit-enabled devices like its competitors.

Launching the HomePod is the most startup-y move Apple has made in years.

Both the Echo and Home are not available in Singapore, and the HomePod will not be coming to the Republic any time soon as well.

Analysts are yet to be convinced that HomePod will rock the smart speaker market the way iPhones came to rule the smartphone world and iPods dominated MP3 players.

HomePod, aided by Apple's Siri digital assistant, will be priced at $349 when it begins shipping in December in the United States, Australia and Britain, the tech giant announced at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

A cynical view would be that this was to justify a high price tag but, after listening to the speaker in action, the comparison seems justified.

In the form of a smart speaker system, the HomePod, which syncs in multiple rooms and scans the space around it to optimize audio.

There are only a few such smart speakers now that adjust the sound output based on their presence and the number of speakers in the same room.

While many have been quick to bash the device for its uninspired design and lack of innovation, others suggest Apple is playing a different game here by offering the best of both worlds: ease of use and superb sound quality for music.

Apart from being a dynamic music guru, HomePod can also be integrated with a user's daily household questions and tasks.

Apple said it had updated the processors in its iMac and MacBook Pro lineup to Intel's most recent "Kaby Lake" processors.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone and supported the theory that the company lost its knack for innovation when its co-founder Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011. This makes Amazon's speaker more functional and versatile.

The new iPad Pro will have a 10.5-inch screen, placing it between the current 9.7 and 13-inch screens of Apple's flagship tablet. In fact, I've seen and heard some say that's what they felt about this year's WWDC keynote.