- omePod said to be aware of whether its owner is at home
- Hands-on review confirms support for multiple users on HomePod
- HomePod sound said to be better than Amazon Echo and Google Home Max
The Apple HomePod smart speaker is all set to see the light of day when it goes on sale in the US, the UK, and Australia starting February 9. While there is some time till the smart speaker is widely available, a report claiming to have an early access to the HomePod, has revealed more details. The most interesting new feature in the HomePod is that it allegedly has awareness of whether its owner is at home, thanks to Siri.
According to Madeline Buxton of Refinery29, every user in a home will be able to use the Apple HomePod, but only the person who actually sets up the speaker on iCloud will be able to get detailed information such as calendar notifications, reminders, send text messages, using voice commands. The device can be set up with only one iCloud account, and the Apple ID will be considered as the owner. Subsequently, the HomePod will determine which account is used for the mentioned services.
The report says, “If you do set up personal notifications on HomePod, these will only be available when you are on the network, so you don’t need to worry about your texts being read aloud at home when you are at work.” It is unclear how the device will determine if the owner is present in the house. It may search another Apple device logged in to the Wi-Fi, with the same iCloud account.
The above feature could be possible because of Apple’s SiriKit. Apple had introduced iOS 11.2 with SiriKit for HomePod in October last year. It had said that with Siri, users will control HomePod through natural voice interaction. And with SiriKit, users will be able to access iOS apps for Messaging, Lists, and Notes. Interestingly, it had added, “Siri recognises SiriKit requests made on HomePod and sends those requests to the user’s iOS device for processing.”
Meanwhile, Refinery29 also revealed other details of the HomePod. In the hour-long test, it found the sound quality of the HomePod is stronger and clearer than Amazon Echo, Google Home Max, and the Sonos One.
There is more about Siri, which the report says, sounds even better on the HomePod. However, there were some “slightly awkward phrasing”. When playing songs, Siri’s pronunciation is said to be correct and it could provide info about bands and albums. This appears to be in line with Apple’s announcement in 2017, that Siri will not only get smarter but will also ditch the robotic voice, to speak in a more human-like voice, with the introduction of iOS 11.
The HomePod will cost $349 (roughly Rs. 22,200) in the US, GBP 319 (roughly Rs. 28,500) in the UK, and AUD 499 (roughly Rs. 25,500) in Australia.