As expected, Apple on Monday introduced a Siri-backed smart speaker, dubbed HomePod, which is expected to launch in December for $349.
While Apple exec Phil Schiller thumbed his nose at the Amazon Echo for its lack of a touch screen, the HomePod does not feature any sort of display. From what Cupertino showed off at WWDC today, the HomePod looks like a small version of the trashcan-shaped Mac Pro, with little more than speaker grilles adorning its exterior.
Echo devices are intended as a way for owners to get information and tap into the Amazon store to purchase items, but Apple is positioning HomePod as, first and foremost, a music speaker. The name, of course, is a reference to the iPod, which gave Apple its start in music.
As Schiller explains, “Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes.”
The 7-inch HomePod features an array of six microphones, which will listen for your command to Siri. Say “Hey Siri, I like this song,” and HomePod and Apple Music will remember your preferences to serve up better playlists and recommendations. Apple also claims HomePod and Siri can handle more advanced queries, like “Hey Siri, who’s the drummer in this?” The top of HomePod will light up with Siri’s signature purple hue when she’s listening.
Under the hood, the HomePod runs an Apple A8 chip and features an upward-facing subwoofer. Room-sensing tech will let HomePod learn where it’s placed in a room so it can deliver the best sound — there are seven beam-forming tweeters and automatic detection and balance of two speakers.
The HomePod is designed to work with an Apple Music subscription and iPhone 5s and above running iOS 11. Setup is similar to that of the AirPods: hold your iPhone next to HomePod and it will be ready to go.
HomePod will be available in white and space gray, and will arrive first in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
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