After years of development and delays, Apple is finally ready to start shipping the HomePod. This is, for the uninitiated, Apple’s smart speaker, designed to compete with the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the like. However, at launch it looks to be falling short of its competitors.
Apple has been working on the HomePod since 2012. It started as a side project, like the Apple TV, but has now become a real product. Unfortunately for Apple, while it was tinkering with the HomePod, Amazon and Google launched their own smart speakers. So, has Apple left it too late?
The Apple HomePod Finally Makes Its Debut
After years of rumors Apple finally took the wraps off its smart speaker at WWDC 2017. The HomePod is a speaker powered by the A8 chip and Siri. It features an array of six microphones, an array of seven tweeters, and a woofer. And the whole thing is wrapped in mesh fabric.
Apple lists playing music using Apple Music as HomePod’s raison d’etre. However, thanks to Siri, you can also use the HomePod to “send a message, set a timer, play a podcast, check the news, sports, traffic and weather, and even control a wide range of HomeKit smart home accessories.”
The greatest Siri speaker that we have ever done. Pre-orders begin January 26. Available February 9.
— ??? Jony Ive (@JonyIveParody) January 23, 2018
At $349, Apple is pitching this as a premium product. So rather than trying to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home, this is targeting the pricier Sonos One. But unlike the Sonos One, the Apple HomePod is limited to working with Apple services rather than third-parties.
The Apple HomePod is available to pre-order from January 26th in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. And it will both start shipping and be available in stores from February 9th. Apple is targeting France and Germany next, where the HomePod is set to arrive in the spring.
Apple Fans Can’t Resist the Shiny Shiny
At first glance, and without any hands-on experience of the HomePod, it looks like this will be perfect for those already ensconced in the Apple ecosystem. But everyone else should look elsewhere. Thankfully, Apple has plenty of fans who can’t resist its new shiny shiny.
Do you currently own a smart speaker? If so, which one? If not, are you likely to buy a HomePod? Or do you consider the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices to be superior? Has Apple put too high a price on the HomePod? Or will people pay it? Please let us know in the comments below!