Announced at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose today, Apple announced an entirely new product to the line-up. Designed to live in the home, an intelligent speaker which not only plays music but has a built-in, hands-free Siri voice assistant. Named the HomePod, this product is coming to Australia.
The HomePod is not a large speaker, slightly taller than an iPhone 7 and has a glowing orb light on top during interactions. Available in black and white colour tones it has been designed to blend into the home without being obtrusive.
During the announcement today, Apple made note that companies like Sonos make great speakers, Amazon has the voice assistant device, the Echo, yet either company is doing a great job of making a device that does both. The HomePod will support Apple AirPlay 2 via Wifi with no physical connections besides power to the device. Apple aims to be the speaker for your music but also the speaker to answer your questions and obey your commands.
Speaking of commands, you can certainly expect that HomePod will work with all existing Apple HomeKit compatible products today. Controlling your smart lights, door locks, and air-conditioner will be as simple as calling out for Siri to do the work for you, no need to touch your iPhone. The microphones built into HomePod are sensitive enough to hear you from afar, even during music playback. That means that while John Farnham is playing you’ll be able to ask “Siri, What year was this song released?” and expect a response.
The top is also touch sensitive so you could tap to pause, hold for Siri or circulate for volume control. If you own two you could set them up as a stereo pair or put them in different rooms for multi-room playback.
Apple did confirm that HomePod will come to Australia, this is good news as the Amazon Echo or Google Home device does not currently ship down-under. In the US pricing has been announced at $399, so we’re expecting a sub $500 price point in Australia. Availability has been announced for December, just in time for Christmas.
Trevor Long travelled to San Jose for WWDC as a guest of Apple