Move over, Amazon Echo and Google Home, soon a new smart speaker will be coming. First announced in June 2017, Apple's long-awaited HomePod will be shipped in the US, UK and Australia from February 9 to $ 349. You can have it in the room gray or white.
Where Amazon and Google focus most on how to interact with their smart speakers, Apple attaches importance to the sound quality that HomePod users can enjoy. In a cylindrical package just under 7 inches high, HomePod has seven beam-forming tweeter for high-frequency acoustics, combined with a large, pure bass bass woofer.
What makes HomePod smarter than regular speakers is the A8 chip, which gives the processor power equivalent to an iPhone 6. Software running on HomePod gives it spatial awareness so it can feel located in the room and adjust the sound automatically for the best listening experience.
With free software update due later this year, you will be able to manage multiple HomePods throughout your home, control each other independently or play the same music at all, perfect in sync. Plus, if you add two HomePods in the same room, you can set them up as a stereo pair.
But HomePod can do more than play music. It uses Apple's Siri speech assistant to listen for commands with a set of six microphones so you can send Siri send messages, set timers, play podcasts, read the news, get the weather, watch sports points and more. Apple has even expanded Siri's knowledge of music to HomePod. You can also transfer a phone call from iPhone to HomePod for a hands-free call.
What if you do not want to talk to HomePod? You can press the top to play / pause (single tap), move to the next track (double-click), or return to previous track (triple). By touching and holding on, Siri calls without saying "Hi Siri", and you can press or hold the + and – buttons to adjust the volume.
Home automation buffers will be happy to know that they can control HomeKit accessories via Siri on HomePod as we please. Additionally, HomePod can act as a HomeKit hub that can trigger automations, allowing you to control HomeKit accessories while away from home.
But most people want to use HomePod for most of the time is music. For full music functionality, HomePod requires an Apple Music subscription. Those who do not subscribe to $ 9.99 per month Apple Music will still be able to play music purchased from iTunes, stream Beats 1 Radio, and listen to podcasts.
It's easy to set up a HomePod, just plug it in and the iPhone or iPad will detect it automatically, just like a few AirPods. As AirPods, a HomePod requires an iOS device. It must be relatively recent (iPhone 5 or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later or 6th generation iPod touch) and it must run at least iOS 11.2.5-you will install the latest available version to keep up with tweaks like apple roll them out
It will be a few weeks before HomePod can be tested against the various Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. My effort is that HomePod will sound better, but understand fewer commands than the more established products from Amazon and Google. Nevertheless, along with adding more room audio and stereo capabilities, Apple will undoubtedly improve Siri's capacity on HomePod over time.