Apple has hired a new engineer to lead its HomePod software efforts. Afrooz Family previously worked at Apple from 2012 through 2016 where he worked on the original HomePod, before leaving the company and co-founding an audio startup, Syng. However, Afrooz left the startup earlier this year.
Syng so far has only announced one product: the Cell Alpha. It is a high-end speaker costing $1,800 featuring “triphonic sound.”
The move could allow Apple to rival smart speakers from Amazon and Google, which are dominating the market. The original HomePod launched in 2018 and despite its outstanding sound quality failed to sell in notable numbers due to its high price tag and limited “smart” features. Apple launched the $99 HomePod mini in 2020, which has done better in terms of sales, but has not exactly set the sales chart on fire.
Despite notable improvements, the HomePod’s ‘smart’ experience still lags behind other smart speakers. The HomePod does excel in the sound quality department, though. With Family’s expertise, Apple could give its smart speaker offering the direction it needs.
Bloomberg reiterates one of its previous reports and claims Apple eventually plans to merge Apple TV and HomePod. The first product from the company combining Apple TV, HomePod, and FaceTime could debut in early 2023.[Via Bloomberg]