They just keep raising the bar don’t they? Just when you think that the geniuses at Apple couldn’t come up with another must-have gadget that will change our lives, they go and reveal the new Apple HomePod smart speaker that looks set to revolutionise the smart home sector in a similar way to how the brand took control of the smartphone and tablet markets.
At the brand’s Worldwide Developer Conference held in San Jose earlier this week, Apple revealed their plans for the innovative smart speaker that’s primary function will be as a music player with a wealth of other innovative capabilities that will not only rival products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, it will surpass them.
The brand made their intentions plain for all to see at the announcement by revealing the key features of the new smart speaker and then revealing at the very end that it would also be a home assistant that would control lights, heating and a number of other smart home items through voice recognition software.
When is the HomePod smart speaker released – and what will it cost?
While the likes of the Amazon Echo are primarily home assistants, the HomePod is a wireless speaker first and foremost with added benefits and for Apple to be releasing a product that has generated such interest in a matter of hours it’s only going to create more buzz before the HomePod release date here in the UK in December.
The new HomePod will retail, initially, at roughly twice the price of the Amazon Echo at $350, equating to around the £270-mark.
What are the key features of the Apple HomePod?
Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to refer to a number of the HomePod’s potential rivals in the announcement, stating that the likes of Sonos had created speakers that sound great but “aren’t smart” while the Echo and Google Home are smart speakers but they “lack the high sound quality” that music lovers demand these days.
Initially available in a choice of two colours – white and “space grey” – the HomePod will stand 7-inches tall and focusses on audio quality. It even features spatial awareness that will project the sound into areas of the room where it detects movement or a presence, rather than directing the sound into ‘dead areas’ or against walls.
The device is controlled using the infamous Siri voice-activated personal assistant and we are led to believe that it has been trained to perform far better than the existing assistant users know from their smartphones and tablets.
HomePod will, therefore, be able to assist owners by providing answers to music-related questions based on the track being played at the time and it can also be used to send and receive messages, to get news and sport updates, to provide weather forecasts and to control smart home devices using the Apple HomeKit.
…not forgetting the new iMac and an iPad Pro upgrade
It says a lot about the proposed quality of the HomePod smart speaker that it completely overshadowed two other key product announcements at the conference, especially when you consider the products in question.
Apple announced that there would be a brand new iMac Pro desktop computer aimed at professional users, also available from December this year, featuring a 27-inch Retina 5K display, up to 18-core Xeon processors and the most advanced graphics package yet with up to 22 Teraflops of graphic (GPU) performance making this the most powerful iMac that the tech giants have ever built.
Keeping the focus on professional users, there has also been a timely upgrade to the iPad Pro with a larger 10.5-inch display, faster processor and 64GB of memory, and if that’s still too small for you there will also be a 12.9-inch version which is better suited to those who use a tablet for designing and presenting.