Apple’s first smart speaker finally has a release date. The HomePod, which was announced more than six months ago at WWDC 2017, will be available online and in store next month.
It took a long wait that included one big delay, but Apple will release the HomePod on Friday, February 9.
Remember that it’s not quite a direct competitor to Google Home or Amazon’s Echo. The HomePod is priced at $349, much more expensive than the other two smart speakers dominating the scene. But Apple would like the HomePod to focus more on premium audio than home automation. Inside the HomePod is an in-house A8 processor, a high-excursion woofer, a six-microphone array, and a seven-tweet array. There’s a seamless mesh fabric offered in black or white that covers all the powerful components.
In terms of software, the HomePod does many of the same things you’d expect from any smart speaker already on the market. Apple points out Siri allows you to play music, send a message, set a timer, play a podcast episode, check the news, get sports scores, receive updates on traffic and weather, and control connected devices in the home.
One of the more unique features is spatial awareness. Wherever you put the HomePod, it adapts to feed sound in the right directions. And setting up the HomePod just requires you to hold your iPhone next to it for instant one-time pairing.
The HomePod won’t be available in many markets to start. Apple says the first trio to get its smart speaker includes the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Then, this spring, the HomePod will arrive in France and Germany. Beyond that group of five countries, Apple didn’t confirm where else the HomePod would be released in 2018 or later.
If you’ve been eager to get your hands on the HomePod, pre-ordering starts this week. Orders can be placed online on January 26 and then Apple will ship to you in time for the release date.