Apple to release HomePod speaker on February 9

Apple HomePod

Apple has announced their HomePod will finally be available for pre-order from Friday and will be in stores on February 9. Pre-orders start this Friday in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia. First announced last June, the HomePod was expected to go on sale before the end of 2017, but Apple delayed the launch to 2018 to fine-tine the new product. Unfortunately, AirPlay 2 still isn't ready to ship quite yet and multiroom audio will not be available on HomePod initially, with support coming later this year via a software update. 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.

Siri news podcast is only available for the United States, Australia and UK - the three countries where the HomePod is due for launch in February. Neither Amazon Echo or Google Home are yet to offer this feature. HomePod will arrive in France and Germany this spring, Apple promised. If your device is compatible with iOS 11 or is already running that version of the Apple OS, then updating shouldn't be an issue. Also, it will send messages and provide updates on sports, weather and news. A missed initial HomePod release date led to absence during a critical holiday sales period. While the Max is such a large speaker that costs $399, the HomePods $349 price point is closer to the Max's than the most expensive Echo speaker (Echo Plus), which is $150.

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We recently learned that Apple had crossed the FCC regulatory hurdle and may release its HomePod smart speaker pretty soon. Overall, 7% of gift boxes unwrapped this year contained a smart speaker.

The Apple wireless speaker has advanced audio technologies and delivers a unique listening experience from wherever it is placed and plays any genre of music. HomePod can also be used a veritable nerve center for the smart home, interacting with the user's smartphone to control accessories connected via HomeKit, for example, from lighting to blinds.

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Here's why you should probably skip the HomePod. And video streaming giant Roku Inc (NASDAQ:ROKU) made moves toward entering the smart speaker market.

Apple says the HomePod uses an Apple Music subscription to access its music library of more than 45 million songs.

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