Yes, it was first announced back in June of 2017 and soon Apple’s long-awaited HomePod will ship in the US, UK, and Australia on February 9th for $349. You can get it in space gray or white. We ordered one of each. Watch out Amazon Echo and Google Home, there’s a new smart speaker coming soon. Why is the HomePod any different...or dare we say, better?
Amazon and Google focused mostly on how you could interact with their smart speakers. Apple, however, is placing emphasis on audio quality that HomePod users and music lovers can enjoy. The HomePod has seven beam-forming tweeters for high-frequency acoustics, coupled with a large woofer for deep, clean bass, in a cylindrical package just under 7 inches tall. The sound will be unmatched.
An A8 chip is what makes the HomePod much smarter than regular speakers. The HomePod has processing power equivalent to an iPhone 6. The software running on the HomePod gives it spatial awareness. What does this mean? It can sense its location in the room and adjust the audio automatically for the best listening experience. What?!
Want to know something else that is pretty cool? With a free software update due later this year, you’ll be able to control multiple HomePods throughout your home. You can control each one independently or playing the same music on all of them, perfectly in sync. Also, if you put two HomePods in the same room, you’ll be able to set them up as a stereo pair. Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Keep in mind, the HomePod can do more than play music. It uses Apple’s Siri voice assistant to listen for your commands with an array of six microphones, so you can ask Siri to send messages, set timers, play podcasts, read the news, get the weather, check sports scores, and more. Apple has even expanded Siri’s knowledge of music for the HomePod. You can also transfer a phone call from your iPhone to your HomePod for a hands-free conversation - Awesome when you are cooking!
What if you don’t want to talk to your HomePod? You can tap its top to play/pause (single tap), move to the next track (double tap), or go back to the previous track (triple tap). Touching and holding invokes Siri without saying “Hey Siri,” and you can tap or hold the + and – buttons to adjust volume.
Home automation/Smart Home enthusiasts will be excited to know that they can control HomeKit accessories via Siri on the HomePod as well. The HomePod can act as a HomeKit hub that can trigger automations and let you control HomeKit accessories while you’re away from home.
But what most people will use the HomePod for, most of the time, is music. For full music functionality, the HomePod would work best with an Apple Music subscription. We love ours! However, those who don’t subscribe to the $9.99 per month Apple Music will still be able to play music purchased from iTunes, stream Beats 1 Radio, and listen to podcasts.
Setting up a HomePod is simple—just plug it in, and your iPhone or iPad will detect it automatically, just like a pair of AirPods. The HomePod will require an iOS device. It must be relatively recent (iPhone 5s or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or sixth-generation iPod touch), and it must be running at least iOS 11.2.5—you’ll want to install the latest available version to keep up with tweaks as Apple rolls them out.
It will be a couple weeks before the HomePod can be fully tested against the various other smart speakers. Undoubtedly, we think the HomePod will sound much better than the more-established products from Amazon and Google. Along with adding multi-room audio and stereo capabilities, Apple will also be one to introduce new capabilities on the HomePod over time.