Rewind: Is Apple’s New HomePod Speaker Everything You Want It to Be?

HomePod offers plenty of features that will likely make it one of the top-selling gifts of the 2017 holiday season. Among these:

Sound, sound, and more sound

If there’s one thing most would agree on it’s that HomePod packs a lot of power under its hood. This includes a high-excursion woofer with custom amplifier, seven tweeters, six microphones, and so much more.

Sound-wise it’s very clear HomePod isn’t targeting Amazon Echo or Google Home customers. Instead, it’s going after the home audio industry as a whole and yes, this is a big deal.

Watch your back, Sonos.

Design

It would have been easy for Apple to look to the Amazon Echo or Google Home for design cues for HomePod. Luckily, they did not. Instead, the speaker looks a lot like the company’s unloved Mac Pro and that’s just fine in our book.

Additionally, Apple deserves major kudos for recognizing that not everyone wants a white speaker. When it arrives later this year, HomePod will be available in white and black.

AirPlay 2

AirPlay hasn’t been shown much love in recent years. That’s going to change thanks to the HomePod speaker and the arrival of AirPlay 2. The protocol allows you to add HomePods to multiple rooms with ease. Better still, the speakers can communicate so that everything’s always in sync.

Apple has already signed up more than a dozen speaker partners who will support AirPlay 2 in future products. These include Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Marantz, Libratone, Beats (of course), and more.

Apple Music and Siri

Not surprisingly, Apple Music and Siri are a big part of what makes HomePod tick. With Apple Music integration, users have access to over 40 million songs from over 2 million artists.

With Siri, you can find songs using your voice. Plus, with HomePod’s “Shared Up Next” feature, everyone in your home can have a say on what songs are coming up.

Wondering whether Siri is listening? Look at the top of HomePod and watch the LED waveform animate whenever you’re speaking. Yes, the animation looks cool.

Apple HomeKit

The HomePod speaker isn’t just for listening to music. It’s also been designed to become the centerpiece of an Apple HomeKit connected home. In doing so, you can talk to Siri to control your smart home accessories.

You can already control smart home accessories with your iOS devices, of course. Therefore, it’s going to be awhile until we can find out whether the process is different or easier on HomePod. But with Amazon Echo and Google Home already offering this with Alexa and Google Assistant, respectively, this was a must-have feature for any Apple speaker and we’re glad to see it.

It’s alive!

HomePod can adjust its sound based on its location in a room. In doing so, we’re promised an immersive listening experience. If this feature truly works, we’re in for a real treat.

Of course, like so many other things about HomePod, we’re going to have to wait until December to experience the feature in a home environment.

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