HomePod is a smart speaker developed by Apple Inc., the company's second speaker after the iPod Hi-Fi. Announced on 5 June 2017, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, its launch was later delayed from December 2017 to early 2018. Apple began taking orders on 26 January 2018, and formally released it on 9 February 2018.
A white HomePod on display at WWDC 2017
|Units sold||1-3 million|
|System-on-chip used||Apple A8|
|Memory||1 GB LPDDR3 RAM|
|Display||272 x 340 LED matrix|
|Sound||7 tweeters, 4-inch (10 cm) woofer, 6 microphones|
|Input||Multi-touch screen, voice commands via Siri|
|Connectivity||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO|
Direct peer-to-peer access from iPhone 5S or later; iPad Pro, iPad (2017), iPad Air, iPad Mini 2 or later, or iPod Touch (6th generation), devices running iOS 12 or later
|Dimensions||6.8 in × 5.6 in (170 mm × 140 mm)|
|Mass||5.5 lb (2.5 kg)|
Designed to accompany other Apple products such as the iPhone and Mac, the HomePod is designed to work with Apple Music to create a "new way for you to discover and interact with music at home," according to Apple marketers. It incorporates beamforming and eight speakers and is sold in two colors: White and Space Gray.
The HomePod received mixed reviews: it was praised for its design and sound quality compared to other speakers of its price, and criticized for lack of third-party support and high price compared to other smart speakers. As well, the silicone base on the bottom of the device was found to occasionally damage wooden surfaces. As of August 2018, the HomePod had sold an estimated 1 to 3 million units.
The HomePod has a rounded, cylindrical shape, and has a small touchscreen on its top. It has seven tweeters in its base and a four-inch woofer (Apple does not specify Hz frequency range) towards the top, as well as six microphones used for voice control and acoustic optimization.
The device runs a version of the iOS operating system specifically designed for the HomePod speaker to play audio, run the Siri voice assistant and control the device's screen. The processor featured in the HomePod is an Apple A8 system-on-chip, previously featured in some of Apple's phones and tablet computers such as the iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 4. It integrates Siri, which can be used to control the speaker and other HomeKit devices, and can be used to conduct text messaging and voice calls from an iPhone. The HomePod mainly supports proprietary Apple platforms and technologies, including Apple Music, iTunes Store purchases and Match, iTunes podcasts, Beats 1 radio, and AirPlay (with limited third-party support for internet radio services iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn coming in the fall of 2019), while an iOS 11 device is required for initial setup. HomePod can serve as a sound bar within a home entertainment system when selected through an Apple TV. The HomePod does not officially support audio-in from Bluetooth sources. Andrew Faden has developed a solution he calls "BabelPod" to allow line in and Bluetooth input to the HomePod through the use of a Raspberry Pi.
AirPlay 2 and multi-room, multi-speaker support were announced in February 2018, and released in September 2018 in iOS 12 along with additional features such as multiple named timers, Find my iPhone, Siri shortcuts, the ability to make, receive and screen phone calls directly on the HomePod, and the ability to search for songs using the lyrics. HomePod initially lacked support for allowing multiple users to use the device, but it was later announced that multi-user support would be added in iOS 13 when it's released in the fall of 2019.
The HomePod received mixed reviews. The review from The Verge praised the HomePod's automatic acoustic calibration system, and felt that it sounded "noticeably richer and fuller" than competitors such as the Sonos One (described as sounding "a little empty") and Google Home Max (described as being a "bass-heavy mess"). The review from Ars Technica stated that the sound quality of the HomePod was "pretty good, rich and full for its size, better than the Sonos One but probably not $150 better, [and] a galaxy ahead of the Echo."
Its lack of support for third-party services and platforms was criticized, with Ars Technica arguing that it gave the device "intense inflexibility". Siri on the HomePod was also criticized for its limited functionality in comparison to assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant; The Verge cited the inability to actually place phone calls from the speaker (they must be made on an iPhone and transferred to the HomePod), set multiple timers at once, or distinguish between multiple voices, and only supporting basic commands when using AirPlay, among other limitations. Multiple reminders can be used in lieu of multiple timers, albeit with less precision than a timer. All these issues have been fixed in iOS 12, released on 17 September 2018.
The Verge gave HomePod a 7.5 out of 10, arguing that it "does more to make music sound better than any other speaker of this kind has ever done before", but that consumers should consider other options "unless you live entirely inside Apple's walled garden and prioritize sound quality over everything else." Wired shared similar criticisms over its lack of Siri functionality and support for third-party services, concluding that the HomePod would be of little interest to those who are not heavily invested in Apple's software and hardware ecosystem.
It was reported by some owners that the HomePod's silicone base stained oiled wooden surfaces with a white "ring" mark. Although Apple states that "it is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces", and that the marks would eventually "improve" on its own, Stuart Miles (founder of the British technology blog Pocket-lint) reported that in his experience, the stain occurred after only about 20 minutes of use on a wooden surface, and that he had to sand and re-oil the surface to remove it. John Gruber criticized Apple for this abnormality, remarking that he had never seen an Apple product damage surfaces in such a manner before, and that it "seems like an issue that should have been caught during the period where HomePod was being widely tested at home by many Apple employees."
Strategy Analytics estimated that 600,000 HomePods were sold in first quarter of 2018, making Apple the fourth best selling smart speaker brand after Amazon, Google and Alibaba, giving Apple a 6% market share in the industry. The HomePod also has 6% market share in the United States according to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners and sold an estimated 700,000 units worldwide in the second quarter of 2018. Also in the second quarter of 2018, Strategy Analytics estimated that the HomePod outsold all smart speakers that cost more than $200, giving Apple a 70% market share in premium brand smart speakers. As of mid 2018, the HomePod had sold an estimated 3 million units. Sales increased 45% in Q4 2018, with Apple selling 1.6 million units that quarter. In April 2019, Apple reduced the price to USD $299.
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