Last summer at WWDC Apple introduced their vision of home speakers with the name of the HomePod. The company has combined two types of portable speakers: voice assistants (Google Home) and wireless speaker systems Hi-Fi (Sonos). The novelty will become a competitor to both classes of devices.
Amazon Echo, Google Home Apple HomePod
HomePod was supposed to go in December 2017, but the release was postponed at the beginning of 2018. On 26 January, pre-orders began, and on February 9, column will go on sale in a limited number of countries, among which USA, UK and Australia. In the spring the device will reach France and Germany. It is unknown exactly when the speaker will officially come to Russia, but we can assume that «Yandex.The market» will appear in the evening on the day of the global launch.
Column relatively small — with a height of 17.2 cm and a diameter of 14.2 cm is Sold in two colors: white and space gray. The top is a touch panel, which hid the A8 processor used in iPhone 6. He is responsible for all smart device features, including Siri and the processing of incoming commands.
One of the determining factors of sound quality of any device s is the amplitude and precision of the vibration membrane of the speaker. Than more flexible and elastic membrane, and the more precise the control, the better.
In conjunction with a subwoofer to reproduce low frequency sound provide seven high-frequency directional speakers, each of which has its own amplifier with the amplitude of motion of 20 mm, that in itself is innovation. They are located at the base of the device which is covered with a mesh material, as well as the whole column. The housing is designed in such a way that dampens vibrations from too much bass. In addition, in the middle of the speaker has six microphones located around the perimeter.
Why are there so many microphones? They determine the distance to walls and objects, and these seven drivers form a group with variable directivity pattern. Further, the Apple A8 processor processes the information and distributes audio speakers are best for a particular room.
Simply put, the column automatically «scans» the environment and, therefore, it adapts the direction of the sound. Reproduction occurs in the sides, center, diagonal, or even in all directions at once. In practice, if the user starts to move around the room, the sound for it does not fundamentally change: echo will not be reflections from the walls too. Of similar systems on the market have the Beolab 90 (85 000 dollars for two) and Lexicon SL-1 (very expensive — manufacturer price, not even calls). HomePod is $ 349.
Also, the microphones need for stable voice commands no matter where the listener is, and what volume the music plays. Siri will be the main tools of interaction with the HomePod: it will control the playback, smart home, surf the Internet and much more.
Siri is the main but not the only way to control the column. The top panel supports gestures:
- To adjust the volume, have keys «+» or «–»;
- To call Siri you need to hold your finger;
- One touch is responsible for starting/pausing playback;
- Two-touch includes the following track;
- Three touch includes the previous track.
At the start of the HomePod will play audio, support Siri (Pro Russian language is unknown) and manage devices that support HomeKit. AirPlay will also work, but only the first version. AirPlay 2 to combine multiple columns into one system will come later with an update. HomePod is a module Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 5.0, but this does not mean that the speaker will work with devices on Android. At least in the beginning.
Apple said that the sound from other applications is reproduced only through its own data transmission Protocol AirPlay. For the first set HomePod requires iOS device 11 and thereafter, the column can be used with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite on AirPlay. It is not clear what to do in this case, user Apple Music on Android. If you use the «Yandex.Music», Spotify or any other third party application, to manage songs through Siri will be impossible.
Apple has published a full list of content that reproduces the HomePod:
- Apple Music. Our database of over 45 million music and Siri will play any. Require a subscription.
- iTunes. Music purchased in the digital shop.
- ICloud photo library. Music uploaded to the cloud with subscription Music or Apple iTunes Match.
- Beats 1. The official radio station of Apple.
- Podcasts. Hundreds to every taste from iTunes.
- AirPlay. Any content over AirPlay with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV and Mac.
On the official website indicated the HomePod compatibility with devices: iPhone 5s and later, iPad mini 2 and newer, and iPod touch 6th generation. In the list somehow, no Mac computers and Apple TV, but we know that they work for AirPlay.
HomePod is sold for $ 349, at the rate of about 20 000. What will be the price in Russia one can only speculate. Certainly not less than 30 thousand.
Apple has a different approach. Unlike Home speakers Google and Amazon Echo, HomePod is primarily a qualitative source of a sound, and then device a voice assistant and smart functions. It provided a truly audiophile-grade technology and innovative methods, not just seven speakers and Siri.