In addition to playing music and performing other tasks, the rumored Apple's speaker will also be able to control appliances, locks, lights, and curtains through Siri voice commands.
Unlike those other smart speakers, Apple is positioning the HomePod primarily as a way to listen to and discover new songs and artists. That company offers a similar wireless multi-speaker system for listening to music throughout the home, similar to HomePod's ability to chain together multiple speakers. It will start shipping in December for $349 in white and space gray colors.
There's no word yet on support for third-party services, or ways for developers to adapt their services for HomePod.
However, Apple has a well-established reputation for keeping its app ecosystem and platforms under tight control, so developers hoping for more open smart home ecosystems such as Google Home with the Google Assistant and the Amazon Echo Show with Alexa, may be sorely disappointed.
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HomePod uses an Apple-designed upwards firing 102mm woofer and a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters. Users can also ask the HomePod to read them the latest news, play podcasts, set reminders. Pulling music from the Apple library, the speaker was presented as being able to recognize its placement and direct rich audio sound into the room.
If the speculation pans out, the speaker would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015, Sunday, June 4, 2017.
"It's the biggest brain inside a speaker", Apple marketing head Phil Schiller proclaimed. The HomePod uses an Apple A8 processor to dynamically model and adjust its acoustics to match the properties of the room it's placed in, and two HomePods can be combined to create a stereo sound system. Like Amazon's Echo, you'll speak to Siri by saying, "Hey Siri".
Claiming that it will do to your home what the iPod did to portable music Apple is pushing this as the first premium speaker that combines intelligence with incredible sound quality.
Apple says that privacy is a top concern here, and that no data is being recorded till "Hey Siri" is said. And fortunately for Google and Amazon, Apple's Siri is widely seen as lagging the competition in both its quality and capabilities.