Apple today announced that its much anticipated Siri-powered smart speaker HomePod will be available from pre-order from January 26 i.e. this Friday. The speaker will start shipping to customers from February 9 and will hit the retail stores on the same day as well.
The smart speaker will go up for pre-order in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. It will be available in white and space gray colors. In the United Kingdom, the speaker will cost £319 while in Australia, it has been priced at AUD$499. Apple also confirmed that its smart speaker will be coming to France and Germany this spring.
Apple highlights the music output quality of the HomePod in its press release. It cites that the speaker is packed with “Apple-engineered audio technology” like real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, echo cancellation and more which is powered by its own A8 chip. There is also an Apple-designed woofer which helps in delivering a clean and deep bass.
Setting up an HomePod is as easy as one sets up an AirPod. Simply hold your iPhone near the speaker and it will be ready to start playing your favorite tunes in a matter of seconds. Apple notes that it would be adding support for multi-room audio and stereo pairing support thereby allowing one to pair multiple HomePod speakers together with a future software update coming later this year.
Thanks to SiriKit integration, one can also use HomePod to send messages to their friends on WhatsApp, set reminders, add tasks to their to-do list in Evernote or Things, and more. One can also make the HomePod act as a speakerphone for calls received on their iPhone.
At $349, HomePod is among the most expensive smart speakers to hit the market. It is only $50 cheaper than Google’s Home Max and more than twice as expensive as Amazon’s Echo Plus. However, unlike Apple, Amazon and Google both offer cheaper variants of their smart speakers as well.
Apple was originally slated to release the HomePod towards the end of last year. However, it ended up delaying its release as it needed some more time to work on the speaker. Many analysts believe that the delayed launch could have cost Apple dearly as Amazon’s Echo series of speakers and Google Home dominated the sales chart during the holiday season in the United States and the United Kingdom. In fact, the surge in popularity was enough to make Amazon’s Alexa app the top-ranked app in the App Store during the holiday season, while Google admitted to selling one Google Home speaker every second since it first released the Google Home mini in late October.