Apple today took wraps off of a neat new piece of home audio gear – a compact speaker which takes aim at both personal assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, and also the premium wireless speaker market.
The speaker has an array of seven beam-forming tweeters with precision acoustic horns, and a custom designed woofer, each with its own amplifier. The HomePod uses an Apple A8 processor to dynamically model and adjust its acoustics to match the properties of the room it’s placed in, and two HomePods can be combined to create a stereo sound system. There’s also support for multiroom audio with AirPlay 2. Each speaker measures 6.8″ high x 5.6″ wide, and weighs 5.5 lbs.
Apple showed the speaker working with Apple Music, but Apple has yet to announce if it will support other media sources. Hopefully it will work with services like Spotify and Pandora as well. The HomePod supports an upgraded version of Siri which can provide a number of specialized music-related features, such as discovery by genre or mood, and supplemental information such as recording credits, history, and related music. In addition to music control, Siri can provide weather, traffic, sports, homekit control, messages, reminders, and more. A six microphone array can detect voice commands from across the room, even while playing loud music.
Priced at $349(USD), it’s decidedly more expensive than competing home assistant devices from Amazon and Google, but it’s clear that Apple is touting HomePod’s sound quality as a big selling point, so it could provide some serious competition to devices like the ones from Sonos. Expect the HomePod to ship this December, presumably just in time for last-minute Christmas buying.