Apple looks to reinvent home music with $349 HomePod, an Amazon Echo and Sonos competitor

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2017
Calling it a "breakthrough home speaker," Apple on Monday revealed the new Siri home speaker dubbed HomePod, a device the company hopes will reinvent music at home just like the iPod reinvented music in your pocket. It will cost $349 and ship this December.




Apple has focused on music in promoting the HomePod, emphasizing the high-quality audio offered by the device. But it's also an Amazon Echo competitor, and can respond to vocal queries about news, unit conversion, messages, sports, stocks, translations, general knowledge and much more.

HomePod also works with HomeKit, allowing users to control their accessories without having an iPhone nearby. HomeKit scenes are also compatible with HomePod.



The speaker accessory is powered by an Apple A8 chip featuring realtime acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancelation.

In pitching the HomePod, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said companies like Sonos are focused on sound quality, like Amazon's Echo is smart without the same sound quality.

Apple's team has been at work for years to create a speaker that not only sounds good, but is also smart.

With a Mac Pro-like cylindrical design, the HomePod is under 7 inches tall in a 3D mesh acoustic fabric. In addition to the A8 chip, it has 7 tweeters and a dynamic modeling subwoofer.




HomePod recognizes the vocals in audio and can beam form direct them for superior sound. When you set up two, they automatically recognize each other.

HomePod also turns Siri into a "musicologist," integrating tightly with Apple Music and accessing tracks from the cloud. HomePod will know your playlists, artists and tracks you love, and utilize six microphones to listen for "Hey Siri" commands to respond.

Once activated, the Siri waveform appears on the top of the device, and then it plays the music the user has requested. It also handles prompts such as "who is playing the drums on this track?" or "play more songs that sound like this," or "what was the top song on March 13 in 2005?"
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 882member
    If anyone here is at WWDC, could you check and see if it has some sort of audio line-in? 
  • Reply 2 of 43
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Sonos' twitter feed is full of apologists "As soon as I get that Echo support..." 

    This is priced right at $349.  That's right there with a Sonos Play3 (which sounds just 'ok') and same price as a Denon HEOS 5.  Neither speaker has smart features and relay on 3rd party. 

    I think it looks good.  It should disappear in the home.  I'm betting that it sounds better that 90% of its competitors. 


    I called Airplay 2 and speaker support for HomeKit months ago.    Both will breath a lot of life into Apple based music.  Now we need an iTunes refresh. 

    Guessing that a larger Siri reveal will happen upon iPhone launch. 
    ericthehalfbeeStrangeDayswatto_cobrapalomine
  • Reply 3 of 43
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,138member
    According to Apple's website its totally wireless. Thats why they called it a "wireless" speaker, not a wired speaker. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 43
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 621member
    question: as discussed on here before, saying Hey Siri will invoke multiple hardware activations....no mention of this in keynote?

    edited June 2017 sockrolidireland
  • Reply 5 of 43
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 882member
    If no line-in, that's a pity. A lot of folks will be weighing a Sonos vs this; Sonos will do their TV audio without latency. I'm sure this'll work with AppleTV, but that's useless for other boxes, Playstations and Xboxen, etc.

    Regardless, I'm one of the rare fans of the Apple HiFi, nice to see it live on in some kind of form.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 6 of 43
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,593member
    NY1822 said:
    question: as discussed on here before, saying Hey Siri will invoke multiple hardware activations....no mention of this in keynote?

    On the Apple HomePod page, it says Siri "waveform" lights.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    Eric_WVGG said:
    If no line-in, that's a pity. A lot of folks will be weighing a Sonos vs this; Sonos will do their TV audio without latency. I'm sure this'll work with AppleTV, but that's useless for other boxes, Playstations and Xboxen, etc.

    Regardless, I'm one of the rare fans of the Apple HiFi, nice to see it live on in some kind of form.
    I disagree here. This is not something intended for home theatre audio systems. Apple is partnering with Bose and other third party manufacturers to provide HomeKit compatibility for home theatre systems and other large speakers. Allow me to say that anyone who pays $350 for home theatre speakers that do not have A) subwoofers or B) surround sound/stereo did not make a very wise purchase. This device is meant to be another entry in the small bluetooth speaker space, similar to the Beats Pill, which was ONCE a very popular product and stuff before Beats went under new management with new marketing ...
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 43
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,610member
    Looks nifty.

    >2x the price of Amazon Echo.

    Appears to not be portable (AC power in.)

    Odd that Apple wants to be in the speaker business, but not in the display business (farewell MacMini.)

    They may sell a lot of these. It's cool, particularly for audiophiles and big music users. But it's not for me. I won't be buying one.
  • Reply 9 of 43
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Line-in won't be a huge factor for Apple because the main reason to want line-in coming from other platforms was to add Airplay support to other speakers that didn't have it. 

    Only the Sonos Play 5 has line-in.   The Play 1 and 3 don't have it. 


  • Reply 10 of 43
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,240member
    Sonos' twitter feed is full of apologists "As soon as I get that Echo support..." 

    This is priced right at $349.  That's right there with a Sonos Play3 (which sounds just 'ok') and same price as a Denon HEOS 5.  Neither speaker has smart features and relay on 3rd party. 

    I think it looks good.  It should disappear in the home.  I'm betting that it sounds better that 90% of its competitors. 

     

    This. From what I saw of the audio processing the HomePod has, it will be significantly better sounding than anything else in its price range (watch out Sonos 3).

    And how will Sonos add Alexa without the hardware support in the speaker for microphones? I hope they don't think having an Echo/Echo Dot PLUS a Sonos is somehow going to be an elegant solution.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 43
    I was hoping they would have shown how it can complement the AppleTV and be used as a voice interface to control it. 

    I hope we will eventually get something like the echo dot that is more about the microphones than the speakers. 
  • Reply 12 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,826member
    The price is certainly fair for an Apple device,  a bit less than some might have expected especially if its audio performance is as good as Apple indicates. The name tho is horrid IMHO. Surely someone came up with something something better than HomePod. Not that it matters. Millions of 'em will sell anyway. 
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 13 of 43
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,247member
    If you are concerned about sound quality, the Marhsall Stanmore is the much better option at the $350 price range. You can get the Marshall for about $300 or less now. 
  • Reply 14 of 43
    jSnivelyjSnively Posts: 352administrator
    Eric_WVGG said:
    If anyone here is at WWDC, could you check and see if it has some sort of audio line-in? 
    Dan is there. Says no line-in.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 43
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,247member
    macxpress said:
    According to Apple's website its totally wireless. Thats why they called it a "wireless" speaker, not a wired speaker. 
    EDIT: Nevermind. 
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 16 of 43
    jSnively said:
    Eric_WVGG said:
    If anyone here is at WWDC, could you check and see if it has some sort of audio line-in? 
    Dan is there. Says no line-in.
    Power-cord or Power-brick or Wireless charging to make it truly wireless?

    (Edit- The next Post on AI seems to have answered that Question. Seems to be a Power Brick with a low voltage power cable question now is it USB-C so that they can scale the Power need, or Proprietary like all the other Boys (17V 1,7A :s ) )
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 17 of 43
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 882member

    I disagree here. This is not something intended for home theatre audio systems. Apple is partnering with Bose and other third party manufacturers to provide HomeKit compatibility for home theatre systems and other large speakers…
    That's a good point.

    I've long been flummoxed by the lack of support for "Airplay 1" by home stereo systems, so I suppose I'm a little skeptical of Bose picking up the slack… but bravo if it comes together this time around.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,151member
    If you are concerned about sound quality, the Marhsall Stanmore is the much better option at the $350 price range. You can get the Marshall for about $300 or less now. 
    How do you control Apple Music or HomeKit with it?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 43
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,247member
    If you are concerned about sound quality, the Marhsall Stanmore is the much better option at the $350 price range. You can get the Marshall for about $300 or less now. 
    How do you control Apple Music or HomeKit with it?
    The Stanmore obviously doesn't have that built in, but you can still control Apple Music via your phone. I guess you are right though. The Stanmore is really in the category of home wired/wireless speakers. The HomePod competes with Echo and Google's speaker. If the sound quality beats the Echo, which I'm sure it will, I'll pick one of these up. 
  • Reply 20 of 43
    jameskatt2jameskatt2 Posts: 720member

    [..]


    This badly needs a subwoofer.  And when it does get one, you potentially have a fantastic home speaker system. Just buy as many as you want. Get 7 plus a subwoofer.
    edited June 2017
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