Apple begins from the point where others finish. When Amazon Echo and Google Home came and started selling good, it looked like Apple missed an opportunity. But Apple has its own way of doing things – it moves when everyone else has moved, and stuns the world with its way of doing things.
Same seems to be happening with smart speaker market as well. Apple’s HomePod smart speaker revealed today at WWDC already looks better than both other options available in the market. To understand why I’m saying so, let’s dive into its details:
Apple Level Design: Because It Must Look Good!
If a smart speaker looks dumb from outside, there’s no reason why anyone would want it. Plus, Apple’s name is synonymous with great design. Therefore, no surprise that design excellence is quite visible in this new smart speaker as well. To start off it comes in two colors: Black and White. In shape and size it’s very similar to Mac pro – 7 inches tall, cylindrical and nearly similar in diameter as well. It has got a mesh design, which according to Apple is good for looks and acoustics both.
On the top of speaker there’s a waveform, which animates when you address the speaker with “Hey Siri” command. And while it’s not an LCD display on the top, it still looks pretty good while animating. Overall, it’s an Apple level design.
Seven Tweeters, Six Microphones and A Woofer: Sounds Good, Doesn’t It?
HomePod combines with seven tweeters, six microphones and a woofer to provide you unparalleled sound quality and experience. Its 7 tweeter array provides a 360̊ surround sound experience, and 6 microphone array ensures that no matter in which corner of the room you’re, the speaker can hear you.
A8 Chip and Machine Learning Algorithms: It’s Smart Indeed!
A smart speaker must start with a smart processor. So Apple decided to embed its own A8 chip in HomePod. However, a good chip can do no good without good programs and algorithms. For that job Apple has programmed this speaker with some powerful machine learning algorithms.
The speaker can detect the length, breadth and other environmental things, and automatically adjust the sound quality and volume levels according to that environment. It can also analyze the music while it’s being played through it and automatically adjust volume levels to ensure that there’s zero distortion in sound while music is being played.
It also applies machine learning to listening as well. As it listens you more it gets better and better at understanding you.
What Can You Ask it To Do?
Pretty much everything that you ask Siri to do on your iPhone. That includes:
- Weather forecast
- Setting reminders
- Sports related stuff (i.e. scores etc.)
- Setting alarms
- And also some dumb questions, just for fun!
As its development will progress, expect it to control your various home appliances as well once it gets support for HomeKit. However, don’t expect it to provide visual answers – it’s just a speaker.
But It’s Primarily About Music
While it may sound weird, unlike Amazon and Google who proudly boast about the various things that their speakers can do, Apple has decided to position HomePod as a music primary device.
At least for now it’s just that – Phil Schiller talked a lot about its sound quality and its music playing capabilities during the presentation. Perhaps that’s just for now because Homekit support is not there. Once HomePod becomes a hub for HomeKit apps, things may change.
Apple is also hard selling the privacy aspect of HomePod, as privacy of an always connected speaker is an important thing. According to company, this speaker doesn’t send any data to Apple until you say “Hey Siri”… and when it does, it encrypts the data being transmitted through an anonymous Siri ID so no one can listen it. While this “anonymous Siri ID” thing needs to be examined properly before saying anything about it, if it’s implemented properly then people will certainly have one more reason to buy Apple HomePod over Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Coming in December
While it sounds tempting, we’ll have to wait for it. HomePod currently isn’t ready to hit the shelves of Apple Stores. It’ll be available in December, so there’s a room of 6 good months before we’ll come to know how good it truly is. And when it comes, it’ll cost $350. That’s twice of what the other speakers cost, but again, Apple has always had it this way in pricing.