A new report has emerged claiming Apple’s HomePod has undergone a rather messy, multi-year development process.
According to Bloomberg’s often reliable Mark Gurman, the HomePod has been cancelled and revived multiple times over the last five years, with Apple also being “blindsided” by the launch and success of Amazon’s line of Echo voice-activated assistant speakers.
Boomberg says that the HomePod’s creation originally started as a hobby project by a small group of engineers that wanted to create a high-end speaker capable of rivalling Bose, JBL and Harmon Kardon in terms of quality. Many of the members of this makeshift team reportedly once worked for high-end big-name speaker manufacturers.
An early prototype HomePod was three feet high, which puts its squarely in-line with more conventional, large scale high-end speakers. The project also didn’t even have an official codename until two years into its development, though the HomePod’s creation was eventually integrated into Apple’s accessories division and given the official codename of B238. At this point the HomePod evolved into a smart speaker following the release of Amazon’s Echo beating the company to market.
The report also discusses the fact that the HomePod won’t be able to perform many of the actions the Echo is capable of doing, at least at launch. While still relatively small in comparison to the App Store, Amazon’s Echo offers thousands of Skills that allow users to add various functionality to the smart home speaker. Google Home, which released in Canada earlier this year, features similar capabilities.
Bloomberg says that the HomePod will be mostly limited to playing music from Apple Music, controlling Apple-optimized smart home appliances and sending messages via an iPhone. Furthermore, it looks like the HomePod will access third-party apps through an iPhone and not directly in the cloud like other smart home speakers. This means that developers aren’t able to create apps designed to run on the HomePod, with Apple taking things a step further and limiting the kinds of apps that can be created on the platform to messaging, to-do lists and notes.
Apple recently delayed HomePod’s release in the United Sates to 2018. It’s unclear when the smart home speaker will make its way to Canada.
When the HomePod does launch in Canada, the smart speaker is set to face stiff competition from Google’s Home device, as well as Amazon’s Echo line, which recently launched in Canada.