The Apple HomePod: Music First, Assistant Second

Apple’s long-rumored competitor to Google Home & Amazon Echo is here.

Named (unfortunately?) the Apple HomePod, the A8-chip powered speaker is being billed as just that—a powerful music device, and not (as Google Home has been positioned) a live-in assistant. Per CEO Tim Cook, Apple is looking to “reinvent home music” with the HomePod, a position likely taken to de-emphasize Siri’s involvement with the tech.

The yarn-shaped HomePod boasts six microphones, seven tweeters, and what Apple is dubbing a “high-excursion” woofer. It is designed to scan the space around it to optimize audio, with an on-board algorithm that analyzes the music being played to dynamically tune sound levels. One HomePod can also be paired with another in the same room or home, via Apple’s newly-introduced AirPlay 2.

As a speaker first-and-foremost, the HomePod has been designed to work best with Apple Music—a feature that will no doubt convince some Music subscribers to choose Apple’s own product above the competition. Like Echo & Google Home, the Apple HomePod will also act as a “smart-home” hub; utilizing HomeKit in iOS and HomeKit-enabled devices.

If you’re chomping at the bit for your own HomePod, you have a wait ahead of you: the smart-speaker isn’t set to debut in the US, UK, and Australia until December. It will run you $349, and comes in just two colors—space grey & white.

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