Cover image credits – corpsedeballet.org
At 6.8 inches height and 5.6 inches width, Apple HomePod surely doesn’t take much space. The stylishly packed HomePod, the smart speaker, packs in a four-inch high excursion woofer, six microphones and seven tweeters at the base to deliver impressive sound that can make your playlist come alive.
HomePod’s standalone virtual assistant capabilities are not clear though – unlike its counterparts Google Home and Amazon Echo. However, it can integrate with HomeKit to manage simple tasks like changing the temperature of the room, switching on lights, activating the sprinklers in your garden etc. through voice commands. Its NLP and AI capabilities will help the users to call out the HomePod to play his favourite songs. He could do so from right across the room and the HomePod would recognize it and play the song to perfection and with highest quality output consistently across the room. For a device prized at US$ 360, is it enough? Or does the user want more?
More Sound, Not So Smart?
Unlike Google Home or Amazon Echo, the HomePod may not be as adept at communicating across devices. Will it be able to tell you how much time you will take to reach the destination you intend to travel to? Will it be able to read out your to-do list or pop it up on your TV screen? Will it be able to switch on devices such as your Owen based on your voice command? Will it be able to leverage Siri’s predictive capabilities such as booking an Uber for you at 9 am every day? Apple hasn’t given any clear answers for this and we will have to await feedback for the first few users to check if such features are in place. The HomePod can work with the HomeKit to achieve some of the above mentioned smart features. However, with Apple’s legacy of creating awesome electronics, we would like to believe that the sound output will be excellent, and would be a delight for music enthusiasts who abide by their iTunes. They would, most probably, go for the HomePod as it enhances the capabilities of Siri and becomes your virtual DJ, who will dance to your tune.
Image credits – www.apple.com/homepod
What’s more, or less?
Apple’s competitors are introducing multi-modal ways of creating the smart home experience. Amazon’s recently launched the Echo Show – a smart speaker with a touch screen. This helps the users to command the virtual assistant to check for flight tickets or shop online, wherein the screen displays the results visually to ensure that the user can make easier and faster decisions. As the competition suggests, it may be better to amalgamate the aural capabilities of smart home devices with a visual aid to enable not only home assistance but also integrate commerce into the facility.
While Apple HomePod looks exquisite and is wrapped in beautiful mesh fabric to enhance both optic appeal and sound output, it still may need to pack in a bit more from the visual display perspective – very essential in today’s times.
Image credits – www.apple.com/homepod
But it’s still very smart!
Where ever you place the HomePod, it automatically analyses the setting and ensures optimum sound output based on its location. It also ensures that the music is directed perfectly so that everyone in the room enjoys a consistent and immersive experience.
Two Apple HomePods in a room can communicate with each other through AirPlay 2. They can recognize each other and balance the output to ensure consistent sound quality across the room.
With more than 40 million songs in its repository, it has something for everyone in the family. And with “Shared up Next” feature, it could enable everyone in the house to have their own playlists running subsequently.
With Siri’s capabilities, the HomePod can recognize and learn your taste in music. What’s more, over time you can just allow it to pick up songs and you would be surprised how it can pick up, exactly what you want.
While it looks and reads like a great product, is Apple HomePod really a smart and intelligent speaker? We will come to know only as Apple unfolds its strategy. However, if you are an Apple evangelist and love music dearly, HomePod would arguably be one of the most immersive experiences, aptly customized to your taste and preferences in music.