The Apple HomePod Hits Shelves
Apple’s smart speaker may be a little behind the initial release schedule but the wait is over as it hits shelves on Feb. 9. Here is everything we know about Apple’s official bet in the smart speaker race.
The HomePod is confirmed to launch and has been available for pre-order since January 26. Apple is set to compete with other successful smart home speakers on the market such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. Much like its peers, the HomePod allows you to play music, control smart home devices, set alarms, and search for information online via voice command. Let’s take a closer look at the Siri-enabled smart speaker.
The Apple HomePod is $349, which is pricier than its rivals. In comparison, the Google Home is $129, the Amazon Echo is $179.99, and the Sonos One is $199.
Although more expensive than competitors, Apple claims the sound quality on the HomePod is superior. To get your hands on this device, order from Apple’s online store or physical locations. Expect delivery and in-store pickup to be delayed due to overwhelming popularity. The device is available from Apple resellers such as Best Buy as well.
Standing under 7 inches and weighing 2.5 kg, the cylindrical HomePod comes in either Space Grey or white themes. It’s covered with a seamless 3D mesh fabric. The topmost part is largely reserved for the Siri interface, where a small screen lights up with a Siri waveform when interacted with. Apple included touch controls for Siri.
Apple’s wireless speaker has impressive features beneath the surface:
- 6 microphones
- 7 horn-loaded tweeters
- A8 chip
- internal low-frequency calibration microphone (automatic bass correction)
- high-excursion woofer with a custom amplifier
- 1GB RAM
- 272×340 pixel screen
- 802. 11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with MIMO
- multi-room support
As a new smart speaker arriving into a burgeoning market, a lot is expected from the HomePod. So what can Apple’s wireless speaker do?
The company claims the HomePod is primarily a speaker and its superior audio seems to justify both Apple’s claim and the device’s price. The excellent audio quality is largely thanks to its 4-inch, Apple-designed woofer and seven beam-forming tweeters that all have individual amplifiers.
Beyond its audiophile credentials, Apple’s smart speaker boasts of its spatial awareness feature. Put it in a room and it’ll analyze the depth and scale of the space in milliseconds. It then adjusts the equalization so you get an audio output optimized for its current environment. By directing sound around a room, the HomePod achieves a 3D sound effect. It works better in conjunction with multiple HomePods as they’ll work together to create the best sound possible. Keep in mind that the feature won’t be available at launch and will come at a later software update.
Pull Up Siri
The HomePod can perform the basics: pull up weather forecasts, read the headlines, give traffic updates, send dictated messages, create to-do lists, control IoT devices, and take calls.
With six microphones built into the top ring of the HomePod, the device picks up your voice from anywhere in a room. Even when music is playing, Siri is always ready to respond to your query. The HomePod has to connect to your iPhone to perform tasks. It works in the same way the Apple Watch needs a companion app on the iPhone for its own apps to work.
Control Smart Devices
Because of all the work that Apple has put on the HomeKit, smart home control is a little refined on the speaker. Most of its function is aggregated into the Home app for easier access. In other words, all you need is the HomePod and your iPhone/iPad to manage all your smart home accessories. No need for a separate smart home hub.
Is the HomePod for You?
If you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, the wireless speaker offers an immediate advantage. It hooks you to both Apple Music and Siri as well as give you control for any HomeKit accessories. It even provides a one-tap setup with your iPhone and sets you up for Apple’s kind of multi-room audio setup coming later this year. The HomePod also offers superior audio quality.