Apple is finally entering the Smart Speaker race!
Much to the relief of tech-hungry apple-heads everywhere the smart-phone giants have taken the brakes off its (so far ill-fated) exploration into the world of Voice-Activated technology and decided now is the time to get involved.
Having delayed their original pre-Xmas release, Apple has now confirmed that the new “Home Pod” device will be officially launched on Feb 9th in the US, UK and Australia, at a cost of 349 USD (about £240).
CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with the Financial Post prior to release, gave an insight into the companies thoughts when it came to their Smart Speaker offering. He said that the KEY difference between this device and its competitors will be its integration between HomePod hardware and Apple’s operating system iOS:
“Competition makes all of us better and I welcome it. But, if you are both trying to license something and compete with your licensees, this is a difficult model and it remains to be seen if it can be successful or not.”
Reading between the lines Cook is saying: “Sure, Alexa and co may work ‘Ok’ will Apple products but the HomePod’s integration will be seamless” meaning if dedicated iPhone/MAC users want to get the best out of their Smart Devices they are best staying within the Apple ecosystem.
As well as the usual Siri-powered search and smart-home functions you would expect with a Smart Speaker, there is also an emphasis on sound quality with Cook identifying that as a major flaw in their competitor’s devices:
“We think one thing that was missing from this market was a quality audio experience. Music deserves that kind of quality as opposed to some kind of squeaky sound.”
The HomePod will reportedly have the ability to ‘sense the surrounding room” and automatically adjust its internal speakers for the ultimate soundscape. Essentially it will combine a premium home speaker unit (with a large woofer and seven tweeters, audiophiles) with an upgraded version of your iPhones Siri Voice Assistant, enabling voice-controlled audio playback in a similar way to other Smart Speakers on the market.
Finally, Apple has shown its hand, and its a strong one. With Amazon and Google already having established a foothold in the market it will be tough for other brands to break in but, with Apple’s dedicated followers and a strong emphasis on sound quality we predict that they can cause major market disruption in 2018.