Apple’s HomePod is officially available for preorder. As announced earlier this week, preorders begin today with the first orders arriving in two weeks, on February 9th. HomePod costs $349 and is initially available in the US, UK, and Australia…
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HomePod was originally supposed to be released last year. Apple first announced the device at WWDC in June, but ended up delaying its release until this year. Apple didn’t offer a specific reason for the delay, only saying that it needed a little more time to make sure things were perfect for customers.
Since the HomePod’s announcement at WWDC, we’ve gradually learned more about it. For instance, yesterday we posted a detailed walkthrough of the device’s setup process, which requires you have iCloud Keychain and two-factor authentication enabled.
Apple touts that HomePod is more than just a smart speaker, saying it encompasses killer sound quality and seamless integration with iOS. HomePod features a large woofer and seven tweeters for room-filling sound.
At launch, however, HomePod won’t support stereo or multi-room playback. This won’t affect you at all if you only buy one, but if you’re buying more than one, you won’t be able to link them all together for whole-home audio.
Apple says multi-room playback will come in a future update. Notably, iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 include support for AirPlay 2 with multi-room, so it appears the feature isn’t too far off.
In addition to sound quality, HomePod supports Siri and allows users to take advantage of “Hey, Siri” for quickly accessing information, sending messages, controlling HomeKit accessories, and more.
HomePod also offers support for reading daily news briefing. Through a new Siri function, users can say “Give me the news” and hear a daily news podcast from their news source of choice, including NPR, Fox News, CNN, and the Washington Post.
While some have criticized the HomePod for being Apple’s weak answer to Amazon’s Alexa products and Google Home, Apple and Tim Cook have repeatedly touted the features that set HomePod apart. Cook recently explained:
“We think one thing that was missing from this market was a quality audio experience, a very immersive audio experience,” Cook said. “Music deserves that kind of quality as opposed to some kind of squeaky sound.”
HomePod is available in two colors, white and space gray, and costs $349. Are you buying one? More than one? Let us know down in the comments.
More HomePod news:
- HomePod hands-on touts superior sound, ‘personal’ notifications only play when owner is at home
- HomePod set up similar to AirPods, requires iCloud Keychain & two-factor auth [Video]
- Tim Cook explains what sets HomePod apart from existing smart speakers
- HomePod will launch with peer-to-peer AirPlay, multi-room and stereo coming this year
- HomePod will support lossless FLAC audio playback as it appeals to audiophiles
- AppleCare+ for HomePod will cost $39, covers AirPort products
- HomePod Diary: How I got talked into buying one despite my reservations
- HomePod can play purchased iTunes music, podcasts and stream Beats 1 without Apple Music subscription