Apple to take on Amazon and Google with its new HomePod

It's also about the promise of spatially-aware sound-projecting speakers, and how that may or may not matter for home audio. "Internally, the HomePod features an array of 7 beam-forming tweeters at the bottom, coupled with an Apple-Designed 4" upward-facing woofer.

The speaker comes equipped with the A8 chip, the same processor found in the iPhone 6 from 2016. The HomePod uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust audio accordingly. If two HomePods are kept in the same room, both the devices can detect each other and function together to deliver the best sound experience without any ads. Control what? Music, of course, and Apple assumes that you'll have an Apple Music subscription. But with an end of year launch date, Apple has some catching up to do.

Apple is facing some serious competition from the likes of tech rivals Amazon and Google in the race for voice-powered computing. Apple got to this at the very end, nearly as an afterthought.

Six microphones to hear your commands: Just say "Hey Siri" and ask it to tell you the weather and sports scores and, of course, play your music.

But the Apple HomePod doesn't line-up with those.

Apple also offered some hints about new capabilities in the next iPhone, including so-called augmented reality, in which digital information is overlaid on real-world images.

As for HomePod, Apple says that while the speaker's always listening, nothing will be sent to Apple's servers until you say, "Hey, Siri". Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality "experiences".

But more to my point, it doesn't seem fair to compare the HomePod to the Google Home or Amazon Echo. But, right out of the gate, Apple is clearly going for music over smart assistance as HomePod's major draw. They're good at bar trivia questions like who won the Super Bowl in 1956, but how often do you really wonder about such questions?

But it's also possible that the HomePod could expose Siri as less capable than Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana, Blaber said. Evaluating this would be hard, and it's likely that each has its own strengths and weaknesses. It'll also have Siri embedded, meaning anything you can ask Siri on your phone you can ask a HomePod, as well as use it to control smart home devices using Apple's Home Kit. Sonos Play3 is wider, Amazon Echo is taller. HomePod will be available starting in December, initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the US. It's all about how you frame things. The new model will begin shipping on Monday. Apple said HomePod can separate vocals and other parts of the music via Apple Music, but that more recent recordings will perform the separation better. Other countries will have to wait a little longer.

  • Salvatore Jensen