Apple today announced a standalone speaker called HomePod that has a strong focus on music, which Apple hopes will “reinvent music” in the home.
It comes in white and black, is just under seven inches tall and covered in a mesh fabric. It has a seven-array tweeter pack, each with an individual driver, all controlled by an A8 chip. It also features spatial awareness to tune sound to its environment.
The speaker is controlled by voice AI, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. It features six microphones, and users can say ‘Hey Siri’ to command the AI, which is primarily intelligent on the subject of music.
For instance, Apple says it can handle complex music-related questions like asking who the individual musicians from a song are, or other obscure music trivia.
But while HomePod’s Siri is mainly a ‘musicologist,’ it can also deal with commands regarding podcasts, weather, sports and HomeKit smarthome devices. Additionally, users can send iMessages through Siri on HomePod.
The company says it is “designed to work with an Apple Music subscription,” presumably meaning there’s no integration for third-party streaming apps like Spotify.
Apple says it is coming “later this year” to the U.S., U.K. and Australia, while it will arrive elsewhere at some point in 2018. The HomePod will be available for $349 USD (about $470 CAD).