HomePod is Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home
Just a year ago, if you wanted something to put on music, take memos and fix your calendar for you, you’d have had to have a butler on staff. Now the UK is awash with virtual assistants leaving their flesh and blood counterparts on the scrapheap, with the Amazon Echo currently doing battle with the Google Home over which is more effective at keeping us bound to the sofa.
Apple wants a slice of that action, and it will join the fray at the end of the year with the HomePod – a speaker powered by Siri.
While music feels secondary on the Google Home, it seems like it’s the priority here. Not only does it feature a seven-speaker array of tweeters and a 4in subwoofer, the HomePod is said to come with its own sense of spatial awareness, allowing it to tune itself to the acoustics of the environment it lives in. You can also chain more than one HomePods together for improved sound quality.
Siri is powering the show, but it seems to have been boning up on its musical knowledge. So when you’re playing content from Apple Music (natch), you can ask the virtual assistant super specific questions, such as “who’s playing drums on this track?”
And of course, Siri is on hand to do the usual stuff you’d associate with smart speakers – news, weather, scheduling, notes, traffic updates, timers and the like. Hopefully, it’ll also tell jokes, given that’s at least half of what my Amazon Echo does with its time. Smart home integration is a big deal too, with HomeKit products integrated from the get go.
So far, so solid, but if you’re a price sensitive consumer like myself, you might want to look away now. The HomePod will cost $349 (~£270) when it launches in the USA, UK and Australia this December. Assuming that conversion rate is 100% on the money, that’s more than double the price of Google Home (£129) and a lot more than the Amazon Echo (£150). And of course, if you have your own decent speaker setup, Echo Dots go for £50 apiece.
The sound quality could be strong enough to justify the leap for audiophiles of course, but we won’t know for sure until we get our own unit to test later this year.