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Apple unveils 'HomePod' connected speaker at WWDC

09 Juin 2017

But with a Siri-controlled Apple device that also can send text, provide traffic and weather info, control home lighting, and play Apple Music, Sonos better watch out, not to mention Amazon, among whose Echo owners are likely a lot of iPhone owners and Apple fans.

In announcing the HomePod, Apple CEO Tim Cook said there are many companies making products for enjoying music in the home but "none have nailed it yet". To start, whole-home audio will work with Apple Music, but an API will become available for other music apps that want to support the feature.

The speaker, while expected by some industry watchers, marked Apple's first new product announcement since the Apple Watch in September 2014. So where does that leave Apple? Of Amazon's other Alexa-enabled devices, perhaps most anticipated is the Echo Show, its "hands-free camera and style assistant", with its 7-inch colour screen at $230 in the United States (no United Kingdom release date is announced yet).

Apple has presently only shown off its cylindrical, mesh-covered smart speaker on stage at WWDC, it is not quite ready to make its way into the home of Pro-Apple (most likely) consumers as of yet.

And while its competition has had a head start - the Amazon Echo launched in 2014 for Amazon Prime members and the Google Home was released previous year - experts in voice and visual search said instead of being late to the party, Apple could raise the bar like it did for digital music players when it launched the iPod, or smartphones, as it did with the iPhone.

Apple reinvents home audio with the HomePod
Why can't software developers do the same? Much like with Siri, Apple is just simply doing less than its competitors here. However, at 7-inches, it is slightly taller than the Google Home , but shorter than the slender Amazon Echo .

In iOS 11, there is a new Files app that integrates iCloud and other cloud drives in one app as well as allowing access to local storage. If two HomePods are kept in the same room, both the devices can detect each other and function together to deliver the best sound experience without any ads. It also adds ambient audio by producing reverb by bouncing the audio off the walls. The HomePod is integrated with Apple Music which makes it possible to listen to wide array of 40 million songs from its library. The story of a sensitive and soulful man who fell in love with his operating system seemed ludicrous to many upon its original release, even if she was the voice of Scarlett Johansson. The HomePod lets you use your voice to play music and control HomeKit devices like smart lightbulbs and thermostats, as well as chat with Siri.

Apple said that watch wearers will be able to link their devices with the gym equipment through NFC.

Unsurprisingly, the HomePod is created to work best with Apple Music. Microsoft also has announced its own speaker with Samsung's Harman business; it will use Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant. You'll be able to ask Siri, "How do you say this in Chinese?" and it will speak it. Languages include Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish, with more coming in the future. HomePod also works as a home assistant, just like Echo.

Introduced at the end of today's WWDC keynote, HomePod is a Siri-equipped smart speaker that specializes in music. The latter is a very important feature since one of the major components of every smart speaker is an AI personal assistant. For iPad users, there is a new Docking station on the bottom which allows users to switch between apps instantly. Despite the company's delayed arrival, Apple is confident HomePod will rise to fame much like the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Apple unveils 'HomePod' connected speaker at WWDC