There has been a lot of speculation recently about Apple’s first home speaker system, the Apple HomePod, which is expected to launch in December 2017 just in time for Christmas.
The Apple-designed upward-facing woofer, paired with the custom A8 chip, is set to create an immersive sound experience, which is managed through real time and projects sound according to its surroundings, enabling clean sound and low distortion. Like its rivals, namely the Google Home and the Amazon Echo, the HomePod is controlled by verbal commands, through the IOS-established Siri. Although this sounds like the ideal home speaker system, as expected, the Apple HomePod is set to be over £200 more expensive than its rivals, but will the HomePod be worth its £349 price tag?
Whilst both the Google Home (£129) and the Amazon Echo (£149.99) are popular options for people seeking home speaker systems, it seems that the Apple HomePod will out-do them in sound quality, appearance and intelligence.
Both Google Home and Amazon Echo are renowned for their intelligence assistants, which respond via Wi-Fi to voice command. However, complaints that Echo is temperamental and often has trouble detecting a voice command when music is playing despite its seven microphones, could sway the buyer towards the HomePod. User familiarity with the world’s number one smartphone’s assistant, Siri, might also attract buyer interest. Although the speaker’s key function is to provide an immersive listening experience, Siri remains as intelligent as on the iPhone or iPad, and can be asked anything from ‘who is the drummer in this song?’ to ‘will it rain today?’
So what makes the Apple HomePod so desirable to sound gurus or tech-geeks like us?
The HomePod promises a 4-inch upward-facing woofer and an array of seven beam-forming tweeters, which according to Apple, will create 360 degree surround-sound, upstaging the Google Home’s 2-inch driver, and the Echo’s impressive one woofer, one tweeter and seven speakers. Although HomePod has one less microphone than Echo (6 compared to 7), Apple’s advanced echo cancellation promises to ensure that every command is easily detected. According to Apple, the brains behind the most complex audio innovations in the HomePod is the A8 chip, which uses an advanced algorithm that continuously analyses the music and dynamically tunes the low frequencies for smooth, distortion-free sound. There is also the opportunity to introduce multiple HomePods, which automatically connect and play in sync to enhance the listening experience.
At 18cm tall, the HomePod comes in two different colours; in classic Apple style they offer space grey or white, offering aesthetic excellence as well as acoustic.
Connected with Apple Music, it is unconfirmed whether the HomePod will be compatible with Android as well as IOS, which will no doubt limit appeal and put off some buyers. Compatible with Apple HomeKit, HomePod has the power to control household appliances through verbal commands, from turning off the lights to closing the blinds, however, this may only be of interest to Apple geeks like us, and may only apply to a niche audience.
As always, Apple is expected to surpass its competitors, so whilst you might be paying a premium, we reckon it will be worth every penny.