The HomePod is Apple’s Smart Speaker (Emphasis on Speaker)

June 6, 2017 - 3 minutes read

Most iPad app developers were expecting big news about a Siri speaker at this year’s WWDC, and that’s (sort of) what they got with yesterday’s announcement of the brand new HomePod. Apple developers and fanatics felt such an announcement was long overdue. While the Amazon Echo and Google Home have become surprise hits, pushing smart speakers into the mainstream, Apple has hung back on releasing its own device. And now that the HomePod is here, it’s not quite what internet of things industry observers were expecting.

For one thing, Apple knows its late to the game and has chosen to position their latest gadget as more of a speaker than a Siri-centric smart home device. Apple’s marketing team realized that audiophiles aren’t playing music through their Echos and Homes and that Sonos speakers don’t have the kind of voice assistant functionality that consumers crave right now. So they have brilliantly pitched the HomePod as the great smart home speaker the IoT market lacks. It’s a move that iPad app developers have to admire.

The HomePod will run $349 and should be available in the U.S., U.K., and Australia by the end of the year. The plump, cylindrical speaker’s sound adjusts according to the dimensions of its environment so that your music can fill any room. It also includes a “Musicologist” feature that essentially turns Siri into your personal DJ and musical encyclopedia. For Chicago iPad app developers looking for something more along the lines of the Echo or Home, the HomePod should meet their needs too. Consumers will be able to activate smart home devices or check the weather by talking to Siri through the device.

It will be interesting for iPad app developers to see if Apple’s gambit of emphasizing the HomePod’s speaker functions will pay off. The device was announced at WWDC on the same day that news broke of major Google Home outages, which suggests that maybe it isn’t too late for a new smart speaker to come in and dominate the market. But with the recent announcement of the Echo Show, with its game-changing screen component, it may seem that Apple is a little behind the times.

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