Our homes might already be filled with the chatter of Amazon Echos and Google Homes, but guess who’s just knocked on the door? Yes, it’s fashionably late Apple with its much-rumoured smart speaker, the HomePod.
Packing a smarter Siri and some fancily-named musical talents, it’s looking to simultaneously suplex Sonos and arm-wrestle Amazon’s Echo family.
But what’s so special about the speaker that Apple is naturally claiming will “reinvent home music”? Here’s everything you need to know.
1) It’s a cross between a Sonos Play:1 and a smart speaker
Yes, Sonos speakers will start working with Amazon Alexa later this year, but Apple has characteristically blended the two ideas – high-end speaker with voice control – in the HomePod.
Standing at a little higher than a Play:1 at just under 7in, it looks a bit like a mini Mac Pro wearing a sweater (sorry, mesh fabric) and comes in both white and space gray colours. The main thing is, it’s a damn sight more attractive than the iPod Hi-Fi.
2) It should (theoretically) sound better than the Amazon Echo and Google Home
Apple was keen to play up the HomePod’s sound quality, talking up its seven beam-forming tweeters and real-time sound modelling to help it manage bass according to your room’s shape.
It also has a similar setup process to Sonos’ TruePlay, apparently learning its position in your room within seconds and optimising its sound.
The hardware and software is certainly promising in theory, but there’s also another reason why it should trump the Echo and Home as a standalone speaker...
3) But that’s because it’s also really expensive
The HomePod will cost $349 (RM1490) when it launches in the US in December. No word on when it'll arrive on our shores but we'll definitely keep you updated on its pricing and availability.
That is a seriously big ask for a mono speaker with unproven smart skills. For comparison, a Sonos Play:1 and Amazon Echo Dot (which will work together this later year) currently cost a combined £249 (RM1370). There’s a lot riding on those claims about sound quality and Siri’s improvements.