by: Bradley Adams
Person Relations Manager
On Tues., Jan. 23, Apple announced that its HomePod speaker will be released on Fri., Feb. 9 and preorders will begin on Fri., Jan. 26, in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The HomePod is Apple’s Siri-based version of a smart speaker, a type of wireless speaker with a virtual assistant that can perform tasks, that was unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2017 last June. The HomePod is priced at 349 dollars in the United States and will be available in two different colors, White or Space Gray.
HomePod finally puts Apple in the game of smart speakers alongside the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The device was originally set to be released in December 2017, but Apple delayed the release until early 2018. Unfortunately, this cost them sales because they missed the holiday shopping season.
Apple’s version of its smart speaker allows the HomePod to stream Apple Music with built-in Siri, send messages, control Homekit accessories, set timers, check the news and weather, play podcasts, and complete many other tasks without the user taking out his or her iPhone.
The HomePod integrates Apple Music, so in order to play music by just asking Siri, users must have a subscription. However, it can also be used as a Bluetooth 5.0 speaker, but the functionality of that has yet to be tested by the public.
The speaker includes spatial awareness and Apple-engineered audio technology, including a seven-tweeter array and high-excursion woofer, which is used to reproduce high and low frequencies. This device is almost seven inches tall and Apple’s A8 chip powers it.
According to Apple, the speaker can create stereo sound when paired with a second HomePod, and when you add the HomePod to more than one room, the speakers can communicate with each other through AirPlay 2 to play the same music everywhere or play different songs in different rooms. However, these features are not available yet, and Apple said a software update will come later this year to enable users to use these features.
The Apple HomePod is compatible with the iPhone 5s or any newer model, any iPad Pro, iPad Air or newer, iPad mini 2 or newer, and the sixth-generation iPod touch running iOS 11.2.5 or later software versions.
(Sources: Apple, MacRumors, and CNBC)