1With HomePod, Apple Makes Belated Entry Into Smart Home Market
With its introduction of the HomePod virtual assistant, Apple is challenging Amazon and Google in a market they have had months to get established. Announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, HomePod is a smart home hub designed to compete with Amazon’s Echo, which has been on the market for just about two years, and Google Home, which has been available in the U.S. since November 2016. The HomePod, which Apple says will offer high-end sound, will be powered by Siri, the company’s virtual assistant, and work with third-party apps and smart home components when it’s released in December. Apple is confident enough about the product that it says the HomePod will dominate the marketplace in 2018. But with a lofty price tag and stiff competition from innovative alternatives, Apple might not bowl over the market like it has so many times before.
2HomePod Is Primarily a Smart Speaker
While the HomePod will compete against the Amazon Echo and Google Home in the smart home, Apple claims its major attraction will be sound. With seven tweeters that deliver 360-degree sound, the HomePod’s sound quality will match those of high-end speakers and not the rather disappointing sound users get from other smart home hubs, the company added. In addition, the HomePod comes with six microphones to enable it to effectively hear and respond to commands.
3Siri Provides the Smarts
4It Tunes Itself to a Room’s Acoustics
Unlike its competitors, the HomePod has the ability to tune itself to ensure it plays the best-sounding audio for the room in which it’s in. According to Apple, the device analyzes a room’s acoustics and will adjust its sound to direct audio across the room. It’s unclear how well it’ll work, but Apple says the feature will allow the HomePod to be placed anywhere in a room and still deliver high-quality sound.
5HomePods Team Up to Provide a Whole-House Solution
The more HomePods, the better the experience—at least that’s what Apple is counting on customers discovering. When two HomePods are in the same room, they’ll identify each other and automatically deliver stereo sound. The hubs also support AirPlay 2, allowing the speakers to communicate with each other anywhere in the home so users can play music all over the house.
6A Smart Home Controller—With a Catch
7The Most Powerful Smart Home Hub Ever?
8(Nearly) No Wires
9Too Many App Questions Remain
One of the big questions Apple hasn’t yet answered is which apps and smart home products will work with the HomePod. Apple is planning to release more HomePod details in the coming months and will likely announce app partners before the device’s launch, but until it does so, it’s hard to say how its smart home features will compete with Amazon’s Echo and Google Home.
10What’s With the Top Pad?
Apple has been surprisingly coy about the HomePod’s top pad. What we do know is that the pad, which has LED lighting built-in, will be touch-capable, allowing users to play, pause and adjust volume with their fingers. It’ll also display a Siri icon when the virtual assistant is listening. But Apple hasn’t said whether more features are coming to the HomePod’s pad. That has caused many to speculate that the company will announce new functions before its release.
11Is the HomePod Worth the High Price Tag?
Apple will release the HomePod in December for a whopping $349. Apple tried to justify the price by saying that buying a high-end speaker and virtual assistant together would cost far more. But at $349, the HomePod nearly doubles the price of the $179 Amazon Echo and makes the $129 Google Home look downright cheap in comparison. Even Amazon’s new Echo Show, which comes with a touch screen, will only cost $230 when it’s released later in June.