Apple’s HomePod firmware spills more details on the smart speaker

Apple unveiled its Siri-powered HomePod speaker hub at WWDC back in June, and despite a hefty $ 350 pricetag and the inevitable comparisons to Alexa devices, it actually sounds pretty good. In the lead up to its release this December, Apple pushed out the hub’s firmware, revealing that it runs on iOS — basically like a screenless iPhone or iPad. But in its current incarnation, the HomePod won’t support third-party apps and programs, according to developer Steve Troughton-Smith’s analysis.


Obviously, that’s not to say the device never will. Since it runs on a full iOS stack through a shell app called “Soundboard,” they could always patch in the ability for third parties to load up their software later. If things don’t change before launch, it’s an odd move to make, especially given how late the HomePod is to the voice-controlled assistant game. Both Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices allow and encourage companies to make apps that enable custom interactions (Alexa has 15,000 of these “skills” and counting). It would also be a huge surprise if the HomePod didn’t integrate at launch with the IoT HomeKit system Apple keeps trying to make happen.

Otherwise, the firmware reveals a few things about the HomePod’s interactions. In keeping with Apple tradition, the device will support accessibility features including VoiceOver. Troughton-Smith believes the top touch surface is an LED matrix that could display shapes and symbols, not just big LED lights. Onboard controls are limited to activating Siri, adjusting volume and alarms on the HomePod — the bulk of which we discovered during our hands-on back in June.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will report if we hear back.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Steve Troughton-Smith (Twitter)

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Apple brings mulitroom speaker support to HomeKit with AirPlay 2

Apple’s HomeKit has provided iPhone and iPad users with a simple platform to connect multiple smart home devices, but it’s shied away from one of the most important gadgets: speakers. While we’re yet to see the rumored Siri speaker, the company announced today that it’s expanding its smart home hub to support a large number of third-party audio hardware.

Many of the brands you’d expect to be on board are, including Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Denon, Bowers & Wilkins, Libratone and, of course, Beats. However, Sonos isn’t on the list, at least at the moment. If you happen to own a connected speaker made by one of Apple’s listed partners, expect them to introduce new speakers that integrate with the HomeKit app, allowing you to control your multi-room setup and enjoy collaborative Apple Music playlists that you’ve curated with friends.

The functionality comes as a result of AirPlay 2, an updated version of Apple’s wireless AV technology. The company hasn’t clarified if older AirPlay-enabled speakers can be updated to support the new platform — we’ve contacted Apple for more information and will update you once we hear back.

Get all the latest news from WWDC 2017 here!

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