Apple Event Rolls Out Siri-Focused Music Plan, AirPods 3, and New HomePod Colors
Apple’s Unleashed event on Monday centered on the new MacBook Pro, but the slate of updated products and features highlighted plenty of other new concepts. The company showcased plans for new HomePod Mini colors, the next-generation AirPods 3, and a Siri-centered music service as part of its universe of products, with hints of more integration to come.
Apple kicked off the event by introducing the new Apple Music Voice Plan, a subscription option built to leverage Siri and its voice AI functions. The idea is that users can access music on any device with Siri, including iPhones, AirPods, Apple’s HomePod smart speakers, and with CarPlay. The Apple Music Voice Plan allows subscribers to listen to Apple Music’s catalogs and radio service through Siri, with Apple highlighting the curated playlists it offers and how interacting with Siri can bring up recommendations based on what is currently playing and recently played music. The app is also adding a Just Ask Siri section to guide listeners on utilizing the voice assistant. The Voice plan is $5 a month, cheaper than the standard $10 a month Apple Music subscription. The trade-off is that Apple Music can solely be accessed through Siri, meaning only on those Apple devices and nowhere else, as well as no lossless quality or spatial audio elements.
“Apple Music and Siri are natural partners and already work seamlessly together,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “With Siri actively used on hundreds of millions of devices worldwide, we are thrilled to add this new plan that delivers an effortless music experience just by using your voice and makes Apple Music accessible to even more people around the world.”
HomePods and AirPods
Apple is expanding the list of devices where users can listen to Apple Music, even with the new tier. Though new HomePod software chief Afrooz Family hasn’t started officially, there will be new, colorful HomePod Minis. The smart speakers will be available in orange, red, and blue, though otherwise the same as their predecessors.
“HomePod mini sounds incredible, and with access to more than 90 million songs in the global Apple Music catalog and deep integration with your Apple devices, it’s the must-have smart speaker for iPhone users,” Apple vice president of worldwide product marketing Bob Borchers said. “With new vibrant colors, HomePod mini fits in even more places and delivers amazing sound, the power of Siri, and simple and secure smart home controls, all while protecting your privacy.”
The bigger device news came when Apple unveiled the third-generation AirPods. The $180 true-wireless headphones are set to start shipping next week. The latest iteration of the entry-level devices comes with spatial audio built-in. They look a lot like the current AirPods Pro, in fact, with a similar case and force sensor controls on the stems, as well as hands-free Siri access with Hey, Siri as the wake word. The new version lasts a lot longer than the last version, with six hours of battery and 30 hours available through the charging case. The new features include a skin-detect sensor to determine when the AirPods are in the ear and a beamforming microphone to block out ambient noise.
“AirPods forever changed wireless headphones with their groundbreaking design, incredible sound, and magical experience,” Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Greg Joswiak said. “We are excited to introduce the next generation of AirPods, featuring unrivaled sound through Adaptive EQ and spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, along with seamless interaction between Apple devices — making the world’s best-selling headphones even better.”