Apple HomePod to be launched in the US, UK and Australia on 9 February: Here's all you need to know

HomePod will have Apple's voice assistant Siri, integrated inside the device and will make music recommendations that go inline with Apple Music.

After having unveiled the HomePod back at WWDC 2017 in June, Apple has finally given out a launch date for its smart speaker, which is to compete with Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

The HomePod will be available for pre-order in the US, UK and Australia from 26 January and in stores from February 9 onwards for a price of $349.

Apple HomePod.

Apple HomePod.

To recall, HomePod was first slated for a December release, but the date was then pushed to January 2018 after Apple claimed that they "need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers".

On 22 January the US FCC approved the Apple HomePod with a model number 'A1639' on its website making the launch imminent.

HomePod will have Apple's voice assistant Siri, integrated inside the device and will make music recommendations that go inline with the company's Apple Music service. Surprisingly HomePod will not allow Spotify or Google Music to become the default music player, which is generally the case in Echo devices and Google Home as well.

The HomePod can be used to send a message using third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp using SiriKit. Apps such as Evernote and Things will be working automatically with HomePod. Developers can add their own support to SiriKit over here.

The HomePod can also be used to set a timer, play a podcast, check the news, sports, traffic updates and weather. Also, you can use the smart-speaker to control a wide-range of smart-home accessories with support from HomeKit. Just saying, "Hey Siri, I’m home," will let you control the lights, raise the shades, set the desired temperature or make other adjustments.

“HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple. It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalogue and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, beautiful design that is so much fun to use,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Inside the HomePod.

Inside the HomePod.

The HomePod is 7-inch tall and powered by Apple's A8 chip which provides 'real-time acoustic modelling', echo cancellation and more using advanced software technology. Spatial awareness gives the HomePod its location in the room so that it can adjust its audio for optimal performance.

Inside the HomePod you can find an Apple-designed woofer, custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters and six microphones. Out of the box, there is no support for stereo speakers, which means you can't connect two HomePods to make them a single unit. However, Apple has announced that this year a free software update will help you play two HomePods as stereo speakers and also enable multi-room audio.

No word is out yet from Apple as to whether the HomePod will be a solo model or will there be other variants as is the case with Amazon Echo or Google Home. And there is no news on the India launch availability yet.

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