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Apple VP Phil Schiller Talks the HomePod and ‘Creating a Personal Soundstage’

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As the HomePod release date inches closer and closer, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, recently sat down for an interview about the $349 USD smart-speaker which will first launch in the US, UK and Australia.

During the interview, which was given to and published by Sound and Vision, Schiller reiterated Cook’s point that the HomePod focuses on a collective and unified audio experience with the help of Siri, Apple Music, and Apple’s musical acumen which has given birth to products like the iPods, and AirPods.

He also talked how HomePod is blessed with machine learning abilities – or what Apple calls “spatial awareness” – to adjust its audio performance, including smart algorithms to manipulate the acoustics, sound beam formation, echo cancellation and so on. He explained the so-called spatial awareness which is powered by an A8 chipset which also drives Apple TV, iPad Mini 4, and first appeared in iPhone 6 and 6 Plus:

From the moment you plug in HomePod and start listening to music, it automatically and instantly senses its location in the room to take full advantage of the environment it’s in.[…]Using advanced software and the A8 chip, HomePod intelligently beams center vocals and direct energy away from the wall while reflecting the ambient reverb and back-up vocals against the wall for dispersion into the room. The end result is a wide soundstage with a feeling of spaciousness and depth.

But how efficient can a four-year-old chipset really be? Schiller claims that using the chipset, the HomePod can analyze the reflection of sound from the walls and adjust the direction, the ambient reverb, and the EQ of the audio to replicate “a wide soundstage with a feeling of spaciousness and depth.”

Schiller also talked about HomePod privacy, detailing that all the voice communications are sent to Apple under anonymity and in an encrypted form. Schiller also enlisted abilities like “automatic bass equalization and dynamic software modeling” to ensure that sound does not crack even at the peak of volume.

Read Schiller’s entire interview here, and check out a review roundup of Apple’s smart speaker here.

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