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Apple’s “breakthrough home speaker” unveiled: Here’s what you need to know

by Brandon Russell | June 5, 2017June 5, 2017 12:13 pm PST

The Amazon Echo just got some new competition. With Siri as its backbone, Apple on Monday unveiled a new smart home speaker that also acts as a HomeKit hub. Its official name is HomePod.

The “breakthrough home speaker” is coming later this year, Apple’s Phil Schiler said. It’ll come in black and white, with a mesh exterior that we’ve seen from other home speakers. It’s under 7 inches tall and features a seven-speaker array of tweeters on the bottom.

HomePod (really?) also features directional control, precision acoustic horns, an Apple A8 chip, automatic bass equalization, and more. Apple says the speaker is capable of automatically detecting the size and dimensions of a room and adjusting the volume dynamically.

The speaker is also capable of simulating surround sound by directing certain audio to a certain part of a room, providing users with a richer sound.

Apple Music will work with the speaker right out of the gate, but no word if other services will be supported. If it doesn’t support other services you know people will revolt.

Siri, of course, is onboard; there are six microphones built-in, so it can hear you from across the room. You can set reminders, check stocks, get sports scores, convert units, and more. And since HomePod lives in your home, it’ll integrate with HomeKit, so you can control your lights and other smart home gadgets.

HomePod will be available this December for $349.

The Amazon Echo typically performs best around the holidays, so Apple’s timing is particularly noteworthy. At $349, is much more expensive than what you’d get from the Echo or Google Home. But the speaker is also supposedly much better, which may justify the higher price.

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...