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Apple HomePod up for pre-order on Jan 26, arriving Feb 9

The Apple HomePod packs a powerful CPU, directional speakers, and a 6-microphone array. (Source: Apple)
The Apple HomePod packs a powerful CPU, directional speakers, and a 6-microphone array. (Source: Apple)
Apple's wireless HomePod speaker is finally launching on February 9 for US$349 with pre-orders starting tomorrow in the US, UK, and Australia. The HomePod features an enhanced Siri experience, spatial awareness, and a wide soundstage.
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The Apple HomePod will be available in stores starting February 9 with pre-orders starting on January 26 in the US, UK, and Australia. France and Germany will receive the HomePod this spring according to an Apple press release. With the HomePod's release, Apple will be vying for space alongside the likes of Amazon Echo, Google Home, the Cortana-powered Harman Kardon Invoke, and the Alexa-powered Sonos One.

The main USP of the HomePod will be the close integration of Siri with Apple Music. Siri will also be able to work with HomeKit enabled smart home accessories and developers can incorporate SiriKit support into their apps to work well with the HomePod. On the hardware front, the HomePod comes with an Apple A8 chip for machine learning and spatial awareness in the room. The smart speaker features 7-tweeter and 6-microphone arrays along with an Apple-designed woofer for excellent sound clarity and voice recognition. 

An update for the HomePod is slated to arrive later this year that will enable multi-room audio and stereo. This will enable the HomePod to play different music in different rooms or can be synced with another HomePod for a more immersive listening experience. Those having concerns about privacy and security of their data can be rest assured that the information sent to Apple is encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier.

The HomePod comes in white and space gray variants and works with all iOS devices running iOS 11.2.5 and above. At a launch price of US$349, the HomePod isn't exactly cheap. For perspective, Amazon Echo and Google Home have smart speakers in the US$50-US$199 range, with products from other OEMs such as the Amazon Alexa-powered Sonos One going up till US$400. Microsoft Cortana, too, has a high quality option with the Harman Kardon Invoke retailing at US$199. Alexa and Google Assistant are also better at third-party skills and internet searches with Cortana not too far behind. It remains to be seen how Siri matures with time and while the adoption of the HomePod might not be dramatic, it will definitely help in adding to Siri's language skills as it rolls out across the world.

Siri on the HomePod is trained to wade through the huge Apple Music catalog. (Source: Apple)
Siri on the HomePod is trained to wade through the huge Apple Music catalog. (Source: Apple)
The HomePod is spatially aware and can tune the audio output accordingly. (Source: Apple)
The HomePod is spatially aware and can tune the audio output accordingly. (Source: Apple)

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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - Managing Editor - 1355 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
Though a cell and molecular biologist by training, I have been drawn towards computers from a very young age ever since I got my first PC in 1998. My passion for technology grew quite exponentially with the times, and it has been an incredible experience from being a much solicited source for tech advice and troubleshooting among family and friends to joining Notebookcheck in 2017 as a professional tech journalist. Now, I am a Lead Editor at Notebookcheck covering news and reviews encompassing a wide gamut of the technology landscape for Indian and global audiences. When I am not hunting for the next big story or taking complex measurements for reviews, you can find me unwinding to a nice read, listening to some soulful music, or trying out a new game.
contact me via: @Geeky_Vaidy
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 01 > Apple HomePod up for pre-order on Jan 26, arriving Feb 9
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2018-01-25 (Update: 2018-01-25)