Apple has set its sights on the smart home market with its Siri-powered HomePod speaker.
What is HomePod?
HomePod is a voice-controlled smart speaker developed by Apple, the company behind the phenomenally-popular iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Similar to other smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home, HomePod is designed to serve as a hands-free interface for a wide variety of services including smart home automation, news aggregation, and of course, playing music.
Powered by Siri, Apple's virtual personal assistant, HomePod listens for voice commands and processes them with the aid of the internet. It can source information and send orders to other services and smart devices without requiring any physical interaction from the user.
Audio plays a big role in Apple's pitch for HomePod. The smart speaker can detect where it has been placed in a room and adjust its omni-directional audio output accordingly, directing music away from nearby walls to minimise echo and maximise clarity. Apple promises that this technology is capable of delivering superior acoustics when compared to ordinary speakers.
HomePod is also built to work in concert with other AirPlay 2 compatible devices, including other HomePod speakers. When it detects a supported device in the same room, it will balance its audio levels to complement rather than compete with the second device. Similarly, when multiple HomePod speakers are distributed amongst different rooms, they're able to communicate using AirPlay 2 to play music throughout an entire house.
What can HomePod do?
Thanks to its integration with Siri, HomePod is capable of an extensive range of information, communication, and automation services. These include reporting the current news, providing weather and traffic information, answering fact-based questions, and managing your personal calendar.
HomePod can also serve as the command centre for your smart home. Any HomeKit-compatible smart device can be controlled through HomePod: these include Philips Hue smart lights, ecobee thermostats, De'Longhi Multi Dynamic Heaters, and many other popular products.
For music lovers, HomePod integrates with Apple Music, Apple's subscription-based audio streaming service. Through Siri, you can browse Apple Music's library of over 40 million songs, and based on what you tell Siri you like and don't like, Apple Music will build a profile of your music tastes. You can then let Apple Music pick out songs for you, playing them through HomePod without you having to issue a single command.
Should you wish to control HomePod without using your voice, the speaker also features a touch surface on its top side. A quick tap will pause and resume your music, and you can adjust the volume with a simple gesture.
When will HomePod be available in Australia?
HomePod will be releasing in Australia in on 9 February 2018, with pre-orders through Apple commencing on 27 January 2018. In terms of retailers, it will be available through Apple, The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra.
How much will HomePod cost?
The Apple HomePod will retail for $499 in Australia.
- 172mm x 142mm
- High-excursion woofer, seven horn-loaded tweeters
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with MIMO
- 6-microphone array