Thursday, 27 July 2017

Apple hops on home speaker bandwagon

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Tuesday 06 June 17

Music is front and centre of Siri-equipped HomePod due to hit shelves in December.

Apple late on Monday unveiled its rival to Amazon Echo and Google Home, with a smart speaker designed with music lovers in mind. Called HomePod – an obvious nod to the iPod – it packs in no fewer than seven speakers and a woofer…

Apple late on Monday unveiled its rival to Amazon Echo and Google Home, with a smart speaker designed with music lovers in mind.

Called HomePod – an obvious nod to the iPod – it packs in no fewer than seven speakers and a woofer. It is able to adjust sound levels according to its position in a room, which should probably be – judging by the fact it resembles a small waste paper basket – under a desk somewhere.

HomePod connects to Apple Music over WiFi, and is controlled by talking to Apple's personal digital assistant, Siri. As well as all the speakers, it comes with six microphones, so it can detect commands while playing loud music.

"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes," said Philip Schiller, SVP of worldwide marketing at Apple.

While HomePod is being pitched as an intelligent speaker, it also promises similar features offered by Amazon Echo and Google Home, such as controlling other smart home devices, and accessing information online, such as news, sports and weather.

"As the iPhone reaches a point of near saturation in mature markets and replacement rates continue to slow, Apple must find new ways to lock in users. Adding a smart speaker into people's homes creates a further touch point for consumers and a valuable gateway to Apple services," noted Geoff Blaber, VP of research, Americas, at CCS Insight.

HomePod will go on sale in Australia, the U.K., and U.S. from December. The U.S. version costs $349 (€310.12).

The new device was unveiled at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), and was by no means the only product shown off there.

Apple also took the wraps off a new, 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and updated its macOS, iOS, and watchOS platforms.

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