Today, Apple’s long-rumored “Siri speaker”, dubbed the HomePod, finally made its debut. The new $349 speaker is a mesh of a Sonos and an Echo aimed at making audio in the home a much better experience. I’ve been mulling over whether or not I want this product and for right now I’m not completely sold. However, if Apple adds these sorts of features, then not only will I buy two of these, but I’d go as so far to say that it would make the HomePod the ultimate home speaker.
Apple TV Support
For now, the HomePod is being positioned as a music-listening device. After all, they named it after the iPod which, of course, was the music player that revolutionized music listening. The HomePod does more than just play music, though. You can talk to it get things like scores, news, as well as control your HomeKit-enabled appliances. It’s not exactly an Echo or a Google Home, but it’s not completely far off from it either.
One of the interesting things Google showed off at Google I/O was the ability for the Home to provide information to your displays, whether it be your phone or even your television. With a Home and a Chromecast, I can ask my Home to play House of Cards and it will automatically start playing House of Cards on Netflix. It’s a really great hands-free way to enjoy television without requiring a remote.
Which brings up the question: Why didn’t Apple integrate the HomePod with the Apple TV? Both of them are going to use Siri as their assistant and both are likely going to be in the home, perhaps even in the living room. How come they didn’t take a page from Google and offer similar integration? Is it in the works and just wasn’t ready to be announced?
Perhaps it is since virtually nothing was announced on Apple TV today. The hardware didn’t get updated and the OS got basically no mention on stage. Perhaps Apple is holding back something that will take it to the next level, especially when paired with one or even two HomePod’s. I mean, why else is this not going to be released for another six months?
Imagine this scenario: You own one or two HomePods and you place them on the side of your television. You can talk to them and have them play basically any song imaginable. You can also ask them questions like “what time are the Spurs playing?” On top of that, you can also ask it to turn off your lights, open your garage, take phone calls and do a variety of other smart home things. So far, this sounds pretty standard, right? Well, imagine you could also ask them to play Netflix, HBO or Amazon content. And then imagine if the sound coming out of your TV was pushed via the HomePods. That would be pretty cool, right?
The HomePod is not a kitchen speaker
Remember, Apple is not positioning the HomePod as a small, cheap speaker that’s just there to answer you questions. They’re doing the opposite. They’re saying that the HomePod is as good if not better than a Sonos speaker but also happens to be somewhat smart.
This is why I think limiting it to just playing music is just plain silly. If this is going to be in my Home, I would love for it to optionally be the speaker that plays everything. In fact, I’d argue that Apple is purposely positioning it that way. This is not like the Echo where Apple expects you to put it in the kitchen. Instead, Apple is clearly positioning this thing as a speaker you’d put in your main living area and enjoy with your friends an family. This is what would take the HomePod to the next
This is what would take the HomePod to the next level. Not just make it a damn good sounding speaker, but make it a damn good smart speaker. Can they pull it off? I hope so.