HomePod was announced in 2017, but Apple’s smart speaker never really became popular. This lack of popularity saw the HomePod mini replacing the original model. However, Apple doesn’t seem to have given up on HomePod, as the company has now hired a new Head of HomePod Software.
According to a Bloomberg report, which heard from sources familiar with the matter, Apple has hired engineer Afrooz Family to lead the HomePod Software team. Family had worked at Apple in the past, between 2012 and 2016, but he left the company to co-found audio startup Syng.
As we covered last year, Syng has recruited multiple other former Apple employees to work on new products for the home audio market, which basically means HomePod competitors. Since Syng is not part of the deal, Family left the startup to return to Apple.
The iPhone maker is enlisting Afrooz Family to lead the work, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Family worked at Apple from 2012 to 2016 before leaving to co-found audio startup Syng with former Apple industrial designer Christopher Stringer. Family left the startup earlier this year after helping develop the company’s product, the Cell Alpha.
Mark Gurman, Bloomberg
At Apple, Afrooz Family is responsible for working on some popular sound technologies for the company’s products, including Spatial Audio and the HomePod’s Spatial Awareness system.
Although HomePod is a smart speaker, Apple first targeted it as a high-quality speaker. However, due to its high price and few smart features compared to its competitors, the HomePod never became a hit. Earlier this year, Apple officially discontinued the HomePod. The company says it has now turned its efforts to the HomePod mini, which was introduced in 2020 at a more affordable price.
According to rumors, Apple is still working on new HomePod models, which include a version placed between HomePod mini and the original HomePod. Bloomberg also reported that Apple is developing a set-top box that combines Apple TV software and the HomePod speaker into one device.