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First look: Apple's HomePod speaker

Apple took the wraps off HomePod, a competitor to so-called "smart speakers" like Amazon Echo, on Monday, later offering WWDC attendees a closer look at the device prior to an expected debut in December.




Apple had both white and black HomePods on display at the San Jose Convention Center, though neither model was fully functional. Whether the HomePods contained speaker hardware, a processor and other components is unclear, as the only functioning feature was the Siri graphic on top of the unit.

Aside from a single power cable, the sneak peek versions do not feature input/output ports, suggesting Apple plans to rely solely on wireless connectivity for audio transfer. The decision comes as no surprise considering the company's efforts to slowly remove wired connections from its product lineups.



From a design standpoint, HomePod is an elegant piece of equipment that should fit in with most modern home decors. A 3D mesh acoustic fabric hides away functional bits like a 7-tweeter pack, 6-microphone beamforming array, central up-firing subwoofer and chassis.

An A8 chip sits below the speaker cap to handle realtime acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancelation. Perhaps most importantly, the A8 also powers Siri, making HomePod an intelligent assistant device capable of accepting commands, answering queries, controlling HomeKit accessories and more.

HomePod is expected to ship in December for $349.