Apple has actually released a new product. Really. The new Apple HomePod is Apple’s foray into the world of smart speakers, Siri’s counterpart to Amazon Alexa’s Echo – an intelligent home assistant, punctuated by high-quality speakers and compatibility with Apple Music.
The HomePod features 7 tweeters, arranged in 360 degrees, each with its own transducer and amplifier. The high-excursion woofer has been designed to achieve rock-bottom bass, and the device uses a new algorithm Apple created that continuously analyzes the music as it plays and tunes the lows for the best possible sound. They also used a new A8 chip, which drives some pretty nifty, high-tech playback, with ultra-fast buffering and echo cancellation. The result is rich, 360-degree sound that encapsulates the whole room.
But here’s the coolest part; the Home Pod actually senses the layout of the room as it plays music, and adjusts the acoustics to achieve the best, most balanced sound. It will even separate the music into both ambient and direct sounds; direct sounds are played into the middle of the room, while the ambient sound is split into left and right channels and bounces off the wall. Pair it with a second HomePod for stunning stereo.
All you have to do to switch songs is speak up and ask Siri, who can also help you with just about anything; messages, voicemails, texts. Traffic and weather, and tasks around the home – controlling the thermostat, turning lights on and off. The usual. When Siri comes on, the LED light on the top actually lights up, much like the Echo. She can even recommend songs similar to those you already love.
So while the Apple HomePod isn’t anything totally revolutionary, it does fill a gaping hole in Apple’s lineup. And for those of us for whom music is the primary reason for having a smart speaker, the HomePod has just upped the sound game.
The Apple HomePod debuts February 9th and will cost $349.