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Apple just announced their latest product, the HomePod, and i just love how when Tim Cook told the audience “theres one more thing” he had the slightest giggle. cause he knew we all knew what that one more thing was. And after announcing the home pod twitter was already flooded about how people didn't like the name and other people comparing the design of the home pod to a wired trash can. And to be honest, I'm not a fan of the name either. But out of all of the things announced at WWDC this year, people will be talking about the Apple Homepod the most.
Apple claims they will release their Homepod this December, but looking at their past track record I wouldn't be surprised if it gets delayed. It happened to both Apple AirPods and the Beats X. Apple’s site still claims it'll still take 6 weeks for your AirPods to arrive and rumor has it the iPhone 8 or iPhone X is also going to be delayed. Granted, the AirPods are very small and presumably complex and the iPhone being delayed is just a rumor. I hope Apple doesn't have to delay the Homepod since it might be a little easier to manufacture. but again thats speculation.
So what exactly is the Apple HomePod. well it’s apple’s entrance into the smart speaker / home voice assistant market. right now the two main players are Amazon’s Alaxa and their suite of speakers and Google Home. And basically what they do is allow you to control your smart home with your voice, and you can ask it questions, and set timers, order stuff online, play music, and the list is growing every single day thanks to the developers. And today is a bit of a repeat of when Apple first introduced their iPod almost 15 or more years ago. There were a whole bunch of MP3’s on the market at the time but no one was really doing it right, but Steve Jobs thought he was able to crack the code with the iPod. Obviously Steve Jobs probably had nothing to do with the HomePod, but Tim Cook and Apple are taking a different approach with their smart speaker in hopes that they’ve managed to crack this code.
Apple is really focusing on the music and sound quality with their HomePod. A quick run down of the internals, it has a 7 tweeter array which gives you 360 sound, a High excursion woofer which means bass, there are 6 microphones, and its powered by an Apple A8 chip. Apple claims that no matter where you place it will deliver high fidelity sound through the room. and they managed to cram all of this stuff into a 5.6 inch by 6.8 inch cylinder. Apple focusing on the sound quality of its speaker first is a good idea, cause you’ll be more inclined to use while you're at home to listen to music. cause listening to music on the Amazon Echo or Google home isn't always the best. Apple also mentioned on their site that you can pair 2 HomePods together and they'll play music simultaneously. But interestingly enough apple hasn't mentioned if you can pair more than 2 speakers together, which sucks cause JBL lets you pair up to 100 speakers together. Obviously thats just sarcasm, you don't need to pair 100 speakers. But you can still link other speakers together using Apple’s new Air Play 2.
And apple claims that with their microphone array, the HomePod will be able to hear you say hey Siri even when the music is playing at full volume. But in order for apple to really win the smart speaker market Siri needs to be up to the task. If you compare Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri together… siri usually comes last in terms of helpfulness when you ask it something. I have an iPhone and when I need to use my voice assistant I always opt for google unless i know for a fact Siri will do what i ask it to do. But with everything we saw at WWDC this year it looks like Apple knows they need to step up siri, especially with the launch of HomePod.
Now I want to touch on the price and the design of the HomePod. The HomePod will retail for $349 when its released in December. Google home on the other hand retails for $129.96 and The Amazon Echo retails for $179.99. Obviously theres a huge price difference between these speakers but you need to remember Apple is going all in on the Sound Quality. Its safe to assume the HomePod is aiming for sound quality on the level of the Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus which I reviewed a few days ago (shameless plug). and that retails for $299. but design wise, I'm not a fan. yes it looks like a wired trash can. It wrapped in a seamless mesh fabric which apple claims is for aesthetic design and acoustic performance… but for $349 i don't like it. I would have expected apple to release something similar to what the Bose Soundlink Revolve plus looks like. Something made out of aluminum, with maybe a little chrome finish or mirrored surfaces like the apple logos on the mac books and on the back of your iPhone. Not this mesh. And the top of the device blinks with a siri wave form when it starts listening to you. But i feel the placement is off cause if youre standing a few feet away and if the speaker is a little high up you wont be able to see the top lights that let you know the speaker is listening to you. From a UI standpoint there might be a sense of uncertainty not knowing if the speaker is listening to you. The top rim of the Amazon Alexa glows and its much easier to see cause of its placement. And when you see the rim glow you can confidently talk to alexa and know she's listening to you. The same thing can be said with Google home, since the top is angled towards you its easier to the see the lights. And i wouldn't be surprised if apple released their HomePod 2, or HomePod series 2, or what ever with a circular screen at the top of the device next year. I feel the design of the HomePod is another example of Apple’s poor design choices like their External battery Case, and Mac Pro.
Apple also talked about security with their HomePod and how they're basically going to make it a “Musicologist” for you that helps you discover every song you’d ever want to hear. But until December we wont be able to see how the HomePod truly preforms and sounds. But comment below, what do you think about the Apple HomePod? Do you have a better name for it? what would you have done differently? and are you going to buy one when it comes out?
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