HomePOD is Apple’s Newest Smart Gadget for Late 2017

HomePOD smart speaker is Apple’s new gadget. Apple has announced a voice-activated loudspeaker powered by its virtual assistant Siri.

Like devices by Amazon and Google, Apple’s HomePod speaker can respond to questions and control smart home gadgets such as lights.

Analysts say Apple has been slow to improve its Siri virtual assistant and launch a smart speaker, after Amazon launched its Echo in 2014.

Apple has pitched ‘HomePod’ first and foremost as a music player

“Apple being very clever by launching its Siri speaker as a music speaker that’s smart, because Siri isn’t great,” said Tom Warren from the technology news site The Verge.

“Interesting that home assistant was the last feature they talked about. Focusing on music is smart, main use case for smart speakers,” said Ben Bajarin, of the Creative Strategies consultancy.

The announcement was made at the tech giant’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California.

“It’s a logical step for Apple, to ensure that they don’t miss the opportunity to get a smart device right in the centre of people’s homes,” said Ben Wood, an industry analyst at CCS Insight.

Is the ‘HomePOD’ going to rise over the home speaker competition like Amazon Echo and Google Home?

“There has been a huge amount of hype around Amazon Echo and Google Home, but we are really at the start of this technology.

“This does a great job of extending the tentacles of Apple services.”

At more than double the cost of Amazon’s Echo, the HomePod is a typical Apple move.

The company is once again banking on its reputation as a creator of intuitive, luxury products that justify a hefty price tag.

What’s interesting about Apple’s approach here is that the company has positioned HomePod as a music device first and foremost, a big contrast to the approach of Google which touted its Home speaker as a day-to-day assistant for many aspects of your life.

Apple Reveals 'HomePod' Smart Speaker local records office homepod

So – a cynic might say Apple has just launched the world’s most-hyped bluetooth speaker – not much imagination there.

But let’s face it, before AI and machine learning really matures, most home assistant devices are essentially voice-controlled speakers, and so Apple dedicating its effort into making it sound great is probably a smart move.

Then again, you might wonder if its “smart” capabilities are being downplayed due to Siri just not being as advanced as its competitors.

How much will the HomePOD cost?

Apple’s billing the HomePod as a home music speaker first of all, connecting it to the iPod, iPhone, Apple Music, and AirPods. So there’s a lot of focus on Apple Music integration. Even still, with integrated microphones and Siri, it obviously competes with Amazon’s various Echo devices and Google Home, and Apple hasn’t really discussed in detail how Siri and HomeKit will match the extensibility of those platforms. But it’s exciting, and we’ll see when it ships in December for $349.

Apple Reveals 'HomePod' Smart Speaker local records office homepod

Unfortunately, that’s about all we can say about this thing for now. The HomePods are here in the demo area, but they’re nonfunctional beyond lighting up. I plan on going back into the demo zone and hollering “Hey Siri” again, and I’ll report back if anything there changes.