At its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple officially unveiled its oft-rumored speaker called the HomePod. The device acts as a standalone way for users to interact with Siri, play music, and control smart home devices.
Apple’s stated this is its effort to “reinvent” the home music space, as it did with the tablet space or smartphone market like they did with the iPad and iPhone. But despite Apple’s objections, one can easily see how HomePod is intended as a competitor to Sonos, Google Home and Amazon’s Echo.
HomePod features a 7 tweeter array with precision acoustics and directional control. There’s also an Apple-designed 4-inch woofer and it’s all powered by an Apple A8 chip. It measures under 7-inches tall and features a mesh design.
Naturally, there is HomeKit support for using HomePod as a home assistant. HomePod features Siri built in, which users can interact with by saying “Hey Siri”. HomePod can act as a HomeKit base station, so an Apple TV 4 or iPad is no longer the only device that can interact and control HomeKit Products. Because of this focus on HomeKit, HomePod will not feature any other Automation protocols like ZigBee or Z-Wave.
Apple placed a heavy emphasis on Music capability of the HomePod with Apple Music support, but given Apple’s tight control of its hardware and services, no mention of third party music services like Spotify or Google Music were discussed; leaving us wondering if they will be supported at all.
Apple also focused heavily on privacy with the HomePod; the HomePod will only start listening when “Hey Siri” is prompted, and it will then use local recognition and send an anonymous ID to Apple’s servers.
Apple’s HomePod will start shipping in the U.S., U.K, and Australia this December for $349. It will come in space gray (black) and white. It will expand to additional countries in 2018.
Are you excited for the HomePod? Do you think this will lead to greater adoption of HomeKit, or is the price point too much? Let us know in the comments below!