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HomePod: Apple’s music-centric answer to the Google Home is here

Wow, Apple‘s doing it again. They’re taking yet another stab at reinventing the way we listen to music with a home speaker that they’re calling the….HomePod.

Hmm, we’re not too sure how we feel about that name, but the specs do seem enticing.

HomePod is the rumoured Siri Speaker that we’ve been hearing about recently, but instead of focusing on being a “home assistant” Apple’s more concerned about audio quality and music playback. It’s also designed to work with Apple Music, giving you access to over 40 million songs and all your playlists.

First up, it’s powered by an Apple A8 processor — yup the very same one you’d find in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. This processor acts as the brain of the device and can do a whole bunch of cull stuff with the audio including real-time acoustic monitoring, audio beam forming and multi-channel echo cancellation. This processor also allows the speaker to be spatially aware so the moment you set up the HomePod, it will automatically scan the room you’re in and adjust the audio accordingly.

Speaking of speakers, the HomePod utilises a 7-array beam-forming tweeter with precision acoustic horns and directional audio control. It’s also got a 4-inch upward facing woofer designed by Apple which has automatic bass equalisation and is free from distortion. This allows the HomePod to detect the different layers that make up a full mix in a song, separating vocals, ambient audio and direct energy from the instrumentation.

It also has a 6-microphone array so you can talk to it by saying the keyword “Hey Siri”. Yep, HomePod also has Siri built-in as your own personal musicologist. Apple says that the team has worked hard to make sure Siri is well-versed in contextual music understanding so you can ask it stuff like “who is singing”, play a certain song or even ask Siri to play something new.

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Just because it’s focused on music, doesn’t mean that Siri in the HomePod is super limited in its assistant-like features. Apple has also included a bunch of commands that you can tell Siri in HomePod to do like set reminders, get news, and even control your other HomeKit connected appliances, with more to come.

What’s more, Apple says that users can even speak to Siri in HomePod from across the room with loud music playing thanks to the sophisticated mic array. Anything you ask it will be locally recognised and all communication is encrypted. If you don’t say Hey Siri, the speaker will not send any audio to Apple.

HomePod won’t be shipping so soon, however, and will only go on sale in the UK, US and Australia starting December 2017. The rest of the world will come later. The 7-inch tall HomePod will come in two colours — White and Space Gray — and is priced at USD349 (around RM1,488).