HOMEWARD BOUND HOMEPOD: Apple's new smart speaker is inbound
Apple has unveiled its first brand new product since 2015 with the launch of its official Siri-powered smart speaker.
Dubbed HomePod, the internet connected speaker is a direct rival to Amazon Echo, with Siri set to take on Alexa in the voice-controlled smart assistant stakes.
However, despite having been officially unveiled, the Apple HomePod won’t go on sale for a number of months.
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“We have such a great portable music experience, but what about our homes?” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in demoing the device.
“Just like we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music,” he teased.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, added: “Just like iPod reinvented music on our pocket, HomePod is going to reinvent music in the home.”
So, what’s so special about Apple’s Echo and Google Home rival?
Well, the connected speaker, which lines up at just under 7-inches tall, prioritises sound quality alongside its smart credentials.
To this extent, it pairs a 7 beam-forming tweeter array alongside a 4-inch upward-facing woofer.
Paired with an A8 chip as its smarts-controlling brain, this is said to create a powerful, distortion-free sound that offers real-time acoustic modelling.
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On top of this, the speaker will play host to spatial awareness skills that allow its to sense its location within a room and attune its audio output accordingly.
Apple's HomePod will feature a Siri voice assistant
“HomePod has incredible speaker system that works together with our Apple Music subscription,” Phil Schiller said.
“It can get your music library direct from the cloud.”
More than just an impressive home speaker, HomePod is a smart assistant in its own right, with its Siri centre letting you make audio commands to perform tasks such as checking the weather, getting traffic alerts and set reminders.
“HomePod features a 6 microphone array so that when you talk to it and say those magic words “Hey, Siri’, you see a wave form light up on top and it’s ready to accept you command,” Schiller explained.
“Siri can interpret what you’re saying. You can even be sat across the room when loud music is playing.”
As well as offering instant translations and letting you use Messages with your voice, the speaker will work with a range of HomeKit-enabled smart home devices.
“If you have HomeKit devices set up, you can say simple things like turn the lights on, turn the temperature up, close the blinds half way,” said Schiller.
“Because there is a HomeKit base built into the HomePod, you can control your home anywhere in the world using your iPhone.”
The HomePod will be available in both white and Space Grey forms when it drops later this year.
As well as offering impressive audio and a range of voice controls, Apple has been keen to stress how the speaker will protect your privacy.
“When it comes to privacy, there are those magic worlds, “Hey, Siri.” Until you say it, nothing’s been sent to Apple,” Apple’s marketing ex explained.
“When you do say it, it sends an anonymous Siri ID to help complete the task you’re asking it.”
Those excited by the Apple HomePod will have to wait a number of months before they can add it to their home.
Apple has confirmed the speaker will hit retailers in the US, UK and Australia this December with the rest of the world being forced to wait until 2018.
While UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, stateside the speaker will hit wannabe owners for $349.
This is considerably more than the $179.99 Amazon Echo.