Apple takes on Alexa and Google with Siri voice controlled HomePod speaker

posted on Tuesday, 6th June 2017 by Steve May

Smart home  Smart speaker 

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Apple is entering the voice controlled smart speaker market with HomePod, based upon its Siri assistant platform. Introduced at Apple’s WWDC 2017 conference, the 178mm tall speaker is designed to work with an Apple Music subscription, and will go head to head with Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem and Google Home this December.

HomePod uses an Apple-designed upwards firing 102mm woofer and a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters. HomePod will be available starting in December, initially in Australia, the UK and the US. In the US, the device will sell for $349.

“Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes,” says Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a beautiful speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home.”

Homepod -standing -black Crop

Homepod -siri -interact Crop

Voice control is via an array of six microphones. By saying, “Hey Siri, I like this song,” HomePod and Apple Music will learn user preferences. Siri can also handle advanced searches within the music library, so users can ask questions like “Hey Siri, who’s the drummer in this?” or create a shared Up Next queue with everyone in the home. 

Siri can also be used manage smart devices on a home network, such as heating and lighting. The HomePod uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust audio accordingly. An internal microphone which manages bass correction. Acoustic modelling optimises the sound depending on where the speaker is placed.

The speaker employs the same A8 chip used in the iPone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPad mini 4 and  Apple TV.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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