Apple has hired a new engineer to lead the software effort for the HomePod smart speaker, with the goal of turning the product into an even greater success.
The iPhone manufacturer has hired audio technology Afroz Family to lead the work. 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 Cell Alpha product.
The company is looking to challenge smart speakers better than Amazon and Google. Amazon’s Echo, which is equipped with Alexa, is currently dominating the industry.
Users rely on the product to do things like play music, answer questions, and set alerts.
Jason Harrison, who oversaw HomePod, left Apple last year to work for Airbnb.
And last fall, Apple revisited the concept with the $99 HomePod mini.
And this device did not become popular for the company. But it helped improve the company’s overall sales of speakers.
However, it hasn’t made much progress against Amazon and Google devices, according to data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
And Syng had her own struggles. The startup developed its own speaker as a high-end alternative to the HomePod, with a price tag of $1,800.
The device provides what the startup calls treble sound – sound that comes from three different directions. But the device has been challenging to develop and manufacture, and its price makes it more of a niche product than a consumer product.
Family has a lot of experience with smart speakers. Prior to joining Syng, he was an audio engineer at Apple and worked on the original HomePod.
Read also: Apple HomePod suffers from overheating
Apple wants to get the HomePod back on track
The iPhone manufacturer typically updates HomePod software annually, along with major iPhone and iPad software updates.
And last month, the tech giant updated HomePod with improved integration with Apple TV. And the company reshaped its product management several months ago, when it brought the HomePod and Apple TV software teams into one group reporting to iTunes creator Jeff Rubin.
The iPhone maker plans to integrate HomePods and Apple TV. And Bloomberg reported that the company is working on a built-in camera device that combines Apple TV, HomePod and FaceTime, to be launched for the first time in 2023.