What is the Apple HomePod?
The HomePod is Apple’s latest innovation. A powerful smart speaker that syncs effortlessly with Apple Music using Siri.
The speaker has been created to compete with Amazon’s Alexa enabled Echo and Dot, plus Google’s Home device. The device does a lot more than just play music wirelessly from Apple Music. The HomePod can hear and answer questions on the most popular topics including timers, clocks, measurements, translations, news, sport and weather to name a few.
On top of this, the HomePod can link up to your Apple HomeKit enabled devices such as Philips Hue so you can tell it do to things such as “Hey Siri, turn off the living room lights”.
What does it sound like?
Although the final model hasn’t hit the market yet, the initial reaction to the HomePod has been extremely positive.
The guys over at What Hi-Fi magazine were given a demo by Apple in a controlled environment that compared the device to Sonos’ Play:3 (their similarly priced smart speaker) and Amazon’s Echo (much cheaper than the HomePod but Amazon’s best offering in this space). Here’s what they had to say:
“In comparison, the Sonos Play:3 appeared uncharacteristically flat, while the Amazon Echo felt almost pedestrian.”
Based on that alone everyone at BT Shop is excited to hear it in person. The Sonos Play:3 is a powerful piece of kit so for the HomePod to make that look ‘uncharacteristically flat’ is pretty impressive.
How does it work?
Although set up has not been confirmed by Apple, we’d imagine that as part of iOS 11 they’ll release a stand-a-lone HomePod app that will help with the set-up of the HomePod when connecting to your home network and devices.
Apple have taken a different approach to the smart speaker and made Apple Music its core function.
Built-in to the device is Siri and the ability to control all of your smart home devices that are Apple HomeKit enabled. Philips Hue lighting, Netatmo thermostats, and Elgato sensors are examples of equipment that can be controlled using the HomePod.
Apart from playing music, what else can it do?
As we’ve briefly mentioned already, the HomePod is so much more than a speaker. It has the potential to control your entire home.
Using commands such as “Hey Siri, turn the bedroom lights off” or “Hey Siri, lock the front door” you turn the speaker into the control room for your home.
Similar to what you can do with the Amazon Echo and Google Home we’d imagine that Apple will introduce functionality so you can use commands such as “Hey Siri, add turnips to my shopping list” or “Hey Siri, remind me to buy a football when I arrive in Liverpool”.
You can also use the HomePod to give you answers to questions such as ‘give me the news’, or ‘give me the latest football scores’.
Can I pair two Apple HomePods?
One of the nice features that Sonos offers on its Play speakers is the ability to pair them with one another to create a stereo set up. Apple announced at WWDC that this was also possible with two HomePod’s.
Another interesting feature is HomePod’s ability to optimise its sound quality based on its position in the room. The speaker automatically analyses the acoustics and steers the music in the optimal direction. Whether HomePod is against the wall, on a shelf or in the middle of the room, everyone gets an immersive listening experience.
How much will it cost?
Although we’ve not been given a UK price, the launch price in the US has been set at $349. We’re anticipating the price to be approx. £299.
You’ll have a choice of either black or white so you’ve got between now and December to decide which will look better in your living room.
When does it come out?
The HomePod was announced at WWDC back in June with a launch date simply down as ‘Available December’. We expect demand to be high and quantity to be limited to if you want one in time for Christmas be sure to follow us on social media for up to date availability information.
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