Hello, HomePod: What you need to know about Apple’s $349 smart speaker

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Apple concluded its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on
Monday with a sneak peek of an all-new product: The
HomePod. 

Originally rumored to be called
Siri Speaker
, the HomePod is a smart speaker with Wi-Fi
capabilities intended to compete against Amazon Echo devices
and Google Home—although it will be significantly more
expensive. During the WWDC keynote, Apple’s senior VP of
marketing Phil Schiller boasted about the HomePod’s audio
quality, its built-in room sensors, and the integration with
Apple Music. 

With its always-on voice assistant and ability to control
connected devices, the HomePod is very similar to Echo devices
and Google Home, but with a few notable differences. Here are
the must-know HomePod features and specs that were showcased
during WWDC.

homepod white shelf Apple

HomePod release date and price

The HomePod will be available starting in December, initially
in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. It will then be available
in other countries starting in 2018. It will cost $349 and will
be available in two colors: white and space grey.

Brain of an iPhone

The HomePod comes with an A8 fusion chip, the same one that
powers the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. That definitely puts it up at
the top when it comes to “smart” speakers. Like the AirPods
(which sport an A1 chip), setting up the HomePod is just as
easy and intuitive. All you have to do is hold your iPhone next
to the HomePod and it’ll be ready to start playing music in
seconds.

Audio specs that rock

Apple wanted to create a speaker that delivered
state-of-the-art sound that “rocks the house.” The HomePod
includes an Apple-designed four-inch woofer for a deeper bass
and seven beam-forming tweeters for high frequency acoustics.
All of this was designed to “preserve the richness and intent
of the original recordings.” Of course, we won’t be able to
vouch for this until we get to listen to it later this year.

Responds to “Hey Siri”

The HomePod has six microphones so that it can be activated
verbally using the “Hey Siri” voice command. You can ask Siri
to send a text message to your friend, start playing the latest
episode of your favorite podcast, and get the latest updates in
news, sports, traffic, and weather. You can also use voice
commands to set alarms, timers, and reminders. In addition,
Siri on the HomePod can help you answer some of your most
burning questions like, “What’s the best Korean barbecue
restaurant nearby?” or “Did the Warriors win last night?”

Controls HomeKit devices

The HomePod can also be used to control HomeKit-enabled
devices. So, you can ask Siri to turn on the lights, close the
shades, or activate a scene that you’ve pre-set in the Home
app. HomePod can even control these devices when you’re not
home via the Home app, giving you the power to remotely control
your devices from anywhere. 

Built-in sensors that automatically adjust sound

Not every room is the same, so the HomePod has learned about
spatial awareness. Its built-in sensors can determine the size
and layout of its surroundings to automatically deliver the
volume and acoustic output that best fills the room. You can
also pair two HomePods so they can sense each other and
complement the sound. 

Designed for Apple Music members

It’s no surprise that HomePod is deeply tied to Apple Music,
which costs $10 a month. If you’re an Apple Music member, the
HomePod can access Apple Music’s full catalog, as well as tap
into machine learning to learn about your music preferences and
suggest songs and artists you might like. Apple refers to the
HomePod as the perfect musicologist. In addition, you can
create a shared Up Next queue with other nearby iOS devices
(using the new AirPlay 2 support) so that everyone in the house
can participate in picking music.

Encrypted communications by default

Privacy is also being touted as a vital component of the
HomePod. According to Apple, the smart speaker will only start
collecting information after the “Hey Siri” voice command is
activated. This means that you shouldn’t be afraid that the
HomePod is secretly recording your conversations in order to
sell you stuff. All information is recorded locally on the
device and sent to Apple servers encrypted using an anonymous
Siri identifier. 

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Source: appleact.com
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