Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

If you think you're sold on Apple's HomePod, don't reach for your wallet just yet - there's a sizeable caveat to consider. For one, the leaks peppered across the internet were wide-ranging and extensive, and secondly, given the superstar status the Amazon Echo has earned as the category-defining smart speaker, surely it was only a matter of time before the world's most valuable country got involved with their own.

After months of speculation, Apple has finally launched its "smart" speaker, the HomePod.

A short promotional video gives little indications of its ability to do anything beyond respond to a request to look good from different camera angles and instantly "play my favorites", however. Things like making smart assistants smarter and digital speakers more accurate require a lot of hard engineering work that few people can really appreciate.

Even Apple is aware of how silly the name is. That way, you know HomePod is doing something, be it playing music or talking to you, and not just an expensive paperweight.

In addition, Cook said Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, Northern California, now has 16 million registered software developers worldwide for its consumer electronics, including smartphone known as iPhone, and 3 million of them were added previous year. The A8 chip inside the smart speaker conducts automatic EQ and the tweeters beamform to provide echo cancellation.

The HomePod's main weapon is sound quality. Machine learning is everywhere in Apple products - Spotlight Search, Mail, iMessage, the list goes on.

A smart speaker must start with a smart processor. It also automatically adjusts its sound output to match the characteristics of the room in which it's used, a feature shared by the HomePod.

Right now, that means giving developers the tools they need to develop the apps of tomorrow with machine learning features. There's some fancy tech inside that should make it stand out from those other home-helper alternatives - more on that later.

What Can You Ask it To Do?

In the future, both AirPods and HomePod will benefit from additional integrations with Siri - but nobody buys AirPods, a MacBook or an iPhone for Siri. It's obviously no standalone subwoofer, but it outperforms what you'd expect from a speaker of this size.

HomePod assistant & powerful speaker " Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Another central feature of the HomePod is that it delivers what is basically a smart home hub for all HomeKit-compatible devices. But it's tough to try to compare them to one another because of how Apple is positioning the HomePod.

"If you are paying the extra money because Apple is requiring you to do so to access your stuff, that is the Apple tax and it is the kind of thing that people don't like".

Apple kicked off the grand unveiling of the HomePod by showing a Sonos Play:3 and Amazon Echo, with Philip Schiller saying Apple wants to combine the two to create a "breakthrough home speaker", claiming that the company has been hard at work for many years creating a device that will 1) Rock the House, 2) Have spatial awareness and 3) Be a musicologist. With no mention of the Mac Pro at this year's WWDC it would indicate that Apple is quietly retiring its dedicated tower PC in favour of the slick all-in-one, though we will wait to see if the company has anything up its sleeve later this year.

The biggest statement comes in the form of the iMac Pro that has an eye-watering $4,999 price tag. And when it comes, it'll cost $350.

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