Apple's new HomePod will arrive in stores from Friday, February 9 and will be available for orders online from January 26, only in the US, UK, and Australia, while France and Germany shall be added to this list from spring.
In a news release announcing its new HomePod music speaker, Apple buried a little tidbit that its Siri feature is now actively used on more than 500 million devices. However, Apple said in November that it was postponing the launch of its smart speaker until "early 2018".
The 7-inch tall speaker ($349) can play music and podcasts, read you the news and control other connected devices in the home via built-in Siri voice assistant. The feature is now only supported in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia. However, Apple has yet to confirm a Middle East price for the HomePod. If HomePod is in the kitchen, users can ask Siri to play jazz in the dining room, or play the same song in each room - perfectly in sync.
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The smart speaker is created to work with an Apple Music subscription, and claims to learn a users' tastes and preferences. They both then balance the audio output to make the listening experience better. The tech behemoth has already missed the busy holiday rush when Amazon's Echo and Google's Home lineup did brisk business. Apple is now detailing a few additional features that will be available. HomePod will also support several touch gestures for additional control. He stated that HomePod focuses on immersive sound quality, which is mostly missing from the smart speaker market.
HomePod delivers stunning audio quality wherever it's placed - in any room in the house, playing any style of music. Apple's A8 CPU powers the device.
The plan was to launch the speaker in December 2017, but announced in November that this would no longer be the case. Wider home automation through lighting, thermostats and other products will furthermore be possible using Apple HomeKit - although the list now falls short of competing with the vast number of integrations available through Alexa and Google Assistant.