HomePod Preorders Begin, Smart Speaker Ships Feb 9

Apple has started preorders for its new HomePod as of yesterday. Priced at $349, the audio accessory focuses on premium sound, offers Siri AI support and taps into Apple Music’s 45 million songs repository.

Positioned as a higher audio quality device to provide superior music streaming quality in the home or work, Apple’s HomePod is meant to differentiate from the popular Amazon Echo and Google Home devices that focus on personal assistant service via voice-driven AI.

Apple’s HomePod does offer integration with Siri, supports AirPlay for third-party music services and most importantly taps into Apple Music’s 45 million songs repository.

At its February launch, the HomePod does not yet include multi-room audio support and stereo sound, although these features were described at length during the 2017 WWDC. Apple however has promised to deliver both these features later this year.

Powered by an Apple A8 chip with real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming and multi-channel echo cancelation, the HomePod has a cylindrical design reminiscent of the Mac Pro and is just 7 inches tall and in ensconced in a 3D mesh acoustic fabric. The HomePod also has its own dynamic subwoofer and 7 tweeters.

One of HomePod’s compelling features is its ability to sense the room and tune the music on its own, automatically analyzing acoustics and adjusting the sound based on the speaker’s location. While direct sound is beamed to the middle of the room, ambient sound is diffused into two channels, right and left and bounced off the wall. This creates a compelling audio experience with great sound anywhere in the room.

Initially, the HomePod will be available in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. In addition to purchasing HomePod on Apple’ store and via the Apple Store app, you can also buy it at Best Buy. The HomePod is available in white and space gray. It will also be available in France and Germany later in the spring. Compatible with iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation), the HomePod works with iOS 11.2.5 or later.

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