Apple’s upcoming HomePod speaker was to come with an always-listening mic. However, it appears that with the next iOS version, Apple will give users the option of toggling the mic on and off.
Unheard features of HomePod
Everyone loves a smart gadget that can listen to commands and perform diverse tasks. However, users are always skeptical about the idea of a clandestine mic listening to all the conversations happening around it. Back in June when Apple unveiled the HomePod, it boasted about its privacy, stating that anything not said to the smart speaker with the prefix “Hey Siri” would not be sent to Apple.
However, anything cannot be as convincing as having an option to shut down the mic altogether. Apple has never talked about such a feature even though it is available in most of the smart speakers from Amazon and Google.
According to the Home app assets, users with HomePod will be able to create "scenes" that disable Siri temporarily. It will probably be very useful for parties. pic.twitter.com/k2gPc50Kmr
— Filipe Espósito (@filipekids) January 21, 2018
Filipe Esposito first spotted the new feature featured in the latest iOS 11.2.5 developer version, and posted about the same on Twitter. The new HomePod feature was discovered among the other HomePod app features and included images suggesting that a user would be able to create custom scenes that mute the HomePod speaker’s “Hey Siri” function.
Esposito stated that the function could come in handy during gatherings at home, like when the host wants to manually control the smart devices such as lights and motion sensors by deactivating the Siri responses.
Further, Esposito also found signs suggesting that the already delayed Apple speaker would be smart enough to differentiate between voices to service multiple accounts. So far, Apple has neither confirmed nor denied if the HomePod can support more than one user. Another new feature that Esposito found is the ability to integrate two HomePods for stereo sounds, or to simultaneously stream music using Apple’s AirPlay2 wireless streaming protocol.
Apple HomePod – when’s it coming?
Apple first announced the HomePod in June of last year. Initially, there were plans to launch the device in December 2017. However, Apple delayed the release to “early 2018” saying more work was needed to perfect the tech. Since then, the iPhone maker has not revealed much about the speaker or its release date. However, if latest developments are anything to go by, HomePod might arrive in February.
One of the two suppliers of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, Inventec Corp, recently stated that its production schedule is back in order, and the first batch would be shipped next month, according to a report from UDN. Inventec and Taiwanese supplier Foxconn will manufacture equal units of the HomePod, which is priced around $349.
Suppliers are expecting HomePod sales to hit 10 million units. The number seems a bit optimistic as the cheaper priced rival, $179 Amazon Echo, has sold only 1 million units despite positive reviews of the product, notes TaiwanNews. Apple, however, is pitching its speaker as a premium device that will learn the owner’s tastes.
According to MacWorld, the HomePod would come with an “Apple-designed four-inch woofer for a deeper bass and seven beam-forming tweeters for high frequency acoustics.” Also, the users would be able to control the speaker via touch, remote-control and through voice commands.