Apple is hoping to leverage this week’s excitement about its new product announcements into some extra enthusiasm for its HomePod smart home speaker system, with a software update enhancing its capabilities.
It’s essentially an AI upgrade. On the HomePod, Siri, Apple’s virtual AI assistant, can now search for songs by their lyrics, and perform other actions such as finding the user’s connected iPhone, setting timers, making and receiving calls, and executing custom routines such as ordering a coffee and turning on connected kitchen light when the user says, “Hey Siri, good morning.”
Siri also has new language capabilities, with support for Spanish in the US, Mexico, and Spain, and for Canadian French. In the wake of Google’s introduction of bilingualism to its own virtual assistant platform – that is, Google Assistant can now switch fluently between two major languages, on the fly – that kind of functionality may seem a bit underwhelming to HomePod users, and may illustrate why the HomePod hasn’t been a strong market performer.
Nevertheless, these days you can’t be a major tech company without offering a smart home speaker system, and Apple is evidently doing its best to keep up. A lot of consumers who decide they’re willing to throw a thousand bucks at a new iPhone this autumn may also spend an extra few hundred on an upgraded HomePod, too.