Apple has recently confirmed that the HomePod smart speakers will be launched on the 9th of February, which means that there is a couple of weeks to go before it is available to the masses. The device will arrive in France and Germany this spring, Apple said. Like its competitors, the speaker is controlled by Apple's AI assistant Siri, which can do things such as read out the news, send iMessages and also act as a "musicologist" to will help users discover new music. Available colors are white and space gray from the Apple website and the Apple Store app. And yet HomePod has failed to really excite fans (except through leaks that gave us early details about the iPhone X).
However, two features missing at launch are stereo sound, where two HomePods in the same room separate into left and right channels, and multi-room audio, a feature tied to AirPlay 2 that will let you send audio to another HomePod in a separate room.
Apple fans, your HomePod has nearly arrived. When you ask Siri for the latest news of the day, it will provide you with a generic news update from sources like NPR, Fox News, CNN, or The Washington Post. I've bought almost every major new Apple product that's come out since the original iPhone, but I think some crucial HomePod flaws make it totally unappealing for most people.
The HomePod supports Apple's Music streaming service and a user's iTunes library, but support for market-leader Spotify or other competing music services remains in doubt. On the audio front, Apple promises 360-degree sound quality, with a woofer for bass plus seven tweeters for higher frequencies. How will it stand against rivals like the Amazon Echo and Google Home? The device is Apple's answer to the existing smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.
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After a strong focus on the media abilities and Siri's role with them, Apple does note that the HomePod comes with full support for Apple's HomeKit platform. Expect HomePod to be priced near $500 CAD or so when it launches in Canada, hopefully sometime in 2018 if we're lucky.
The HonePod is powered by Apple's A8 chip.
It's too damn expensiveWith its $350 price tag, HomePod is one of the most expensive smart speakers on the market. 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.