Bloomberg reports that Apple has hired a new software lead for its HomePod team, as it works to better compete with smart home speakers from competitors like Amazon and Google.
Apple has brought back Afrooz Family, an audio engineer who worked at Apple from 2012 to 2016. Family is leading software development on the HomePod/Apple TV team. He co-founded speaker company Syng alongside former Apple design team member Christoper Stringer. The company is known for its expensive Cell Alpha speaker, which offers “triphonic” audio technology that’s able to create an immersive, dynamic sound field.
Apple has faced an uphill climb in competing with other smart home speaker makers, ever since the original HomePod speaker’s launch in 2018. Although the smart speaker boasted much better sound quality than many of its competitors, it was priced at $350 and could not put a dent in the market share held by cheaper speakers from Amazon, Google, and others.
Apple discontinued the original full-sized HomePod earlier this year. Instead, it is focusing on its smaller $99 HomePod mini, which has proven to be more appealing, due to its lower price tag.
Bloomberg says Apple plans to create a combined HomePod, Apple TV, and FaceTime device that will act as an all-in-one entertainment option. The new device could be ready as soon as 2023.