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June 8, 2017

Apple HomePod wants to take on Amazon Echo, Google Home, Sonos

There’s a new smart speaker and home tech hub in town

Apple’s comin’ for the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Sonos’s product line with the HomePod, a voice-controlled smart speaker and home tech hub.

Unveiled at yesterday’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)—Apple’s news feast for coders, software engineers, and the tech-obsessed—in San Jose, California, the HomePod got positive early reviews, albeit with a few caveats: Our sister site, The Verge, noted that “in a controlled demo, with specific songs designed to show off the HomePod’s strengths, we heard it do some pretty impressive audio tricks.” In other words, conditions for showing it off were optimal at yesterday’s demo.

The “tricks” in question seem mostly to do with things like the quality of the bass output and using microphone technology to direct different elements of a song—say, its vocal line and backing piano—to different parts of a room for the optimal listening experience.

It seems Apple is relying on the quality of the audio from its smart speaker to set it apart from what is quickly becoming a crowded and competitive field.

Want to snag your own? HomePods—to be offered in “space gray” and white—will hit stores in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, this December and retail at $349.

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