Originally set to release in fall of 2017, the long-awaited appearance of the HomePod is here. The smart speaker will ship on Friday, February 9th and is currently available for preorder. Now to decide whether it’s worth all the hype. Currently, the Apple product is being advertised as a high-quality speaker, but with a retail price of $349 there has to be more capabilities outside of playing your favorite music.
As Google and Amazon have taken lead of the smart speaker/virtual assistant market, many have sat in anticipation of how the tech lead counterpart, Apple, would respond. With so much anticipation comes high expectations, so it is no wonder the release date for the HomePod was delayed. And though talk of the HomePod had lost its momentum, Tim Cook found a way to talk it up at a Shopify visit a couple weeks ago.
“We think one thing that was missing from this market was a quality audio experience, a very immersive audio experience.”
Apple has a great reputation for integrating aesthetically pleasing hardware with equally as sleek software. Below are some specific details regarding the HomePod, directly from Apple’s Newsroom.
- “At just under 7 inches tall, HomePod represents years of hardware and software innovation.
- It is packed with Apple-engineered audio technology, it uses advanced software for real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, echo cancellation and more, powered by Apple’s A8 chip, delivering a wide, spacious soundstage.
- Using spatial awareness to sense its location in the room, it automatically adjusts the audio to sound great wherever it is placed. HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with directional control, and powerful technologies that preserve the richness and intent of original recordings.
- With an array of six microphones, HomePod can hear “Hey Siri” from across the room, even when loud music is playing. Setup is as easy and intuitive as setting up AirPods — simply hold an iPhone next to HomePod and it’s ready to start playing music in seconds. The Siri waveform appears on the top to indicate when Siri is engaged, and integrated touch controls also allow easy navigation.”
With these specs, the HomePod could be viewed as a direct extension of customers’ existing Apple devices. In fact, because the HomePod relies on an iOS device for processing, Android users aren’t supported by the HomePod. And when it comes to listening to your favorite music, you’ll need an Apple Music account subscription; this device isn’t too friendly to third-party music suppliers. However, if you are already an Apple fan or ready to convert to one, the HomePod has the potential to take your music and virtual assistance to a new level.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around,” said Steve Jobs. So just as with any other Apple product, the specs are likely not the story—the experience that the product has the potential to provide is what we’re waiting for. In addition to the enhanced music experience, the HomePod also has the potential to interact with third-party applications via SiriKit. The types of third-party applications are limited to: workouts, VoIP calling, photo search, payments, ride booking, and messaging.
SiriKit requests are made verbally and the HomePod translates those requests by sending them to the user’s iOS device for processing. When an application wants to be accessible to the user via the HomePod, it has to have an extension registered with specific domains and intents that it can handle. An intent is equivalent to a skill for an Alexa or an action with Google Home, it works with the built-in software (Siri) to handle the user’s request. Intents are contingent upon what type of third-party application you are developing for.
Once released, the HomePod is also said to come with a software update that will include Airplay 2, which is necessary for multi-room audio and stereo-pairing of two speakers, allowing for a more immersive music experience. The HomePod seems to be a direct extension of the Apple ecosystem, providing users the opportunity to be immersed in quality audio provided by Apple’s services and/or other services that utilize SiriKit.
If you want to lead the way with SiriKit intents for the HomePod, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We consistently keep our clients ahead of the technology curve and would love to help you do so as well.