Apple has announced that its previously-delayed smart speaker, the HomePod, will release on February 9, with pre-orders beginning this Friday.
The device will initially launch in the US, UK, and Australia, eventually hitting stores in Germany and France in the spring.
Apple’s HomePod follows similar smart devices from Google and Amazon — the Google Home and Amazon Echo — but with a particular emphasis on music and sound quality.
“HomePod delivers stunning audio quality wherever it’s placed — in any room in the house, playing any style of music. Using just your voice, [the HomePod] is easy and fun to use, and works together with an Apple Music subscription for a breakthrough music experience,” reads the press release released by Apple this morning.
Owners will be able to voice activate Siri, Apple’s smart assistant already present in a vast majority of its products, to have it play music, send text messages, set timers, check traffic and weather, and more.
However, as noted by The Verge, Siri on the HomePod will be “more limited” when compared to its abilities on devices like the iPhone or Mac and will be given less of a focus.
This, along with the HomePod being hundreds of dollars more expensive than the $129 Google Home and $100 Amazon Echo, seems to be aligning the product more in competition with high-end wireless speakers like those offered by Sonos.
Boasting a seven-speaker tweeter array, six-microphone array, and four-inch subwoofer packed into a seven-inch set-up, its audio quality is expected to easily fall in line with speakers in its price range.
Additionally, as detailed by Forbes, the HomePod will be able to automatically detect multiple devices in one room and balance sound as it deems appropriate.
Originally set for a launch at the end of 2017, the HomePod was delayed in mid-December, but it doesn’t appear that the extra time gave rise to any new features unnoted when it was announced last June.
The Verge lists a few items still unknown about Apple’s new speaker, including whether music subscription services other than Apple Music will be supported and, if so, if users will be able to manage them via voice.
While most features will work right out of the box, Apple says that some, like multi-room audio, won’t be available until a software update later this year.
The multi-room audio update will allow users to play music synchronously on multiple devices in different rooms.
In addition, the update will introduce the ability to set up two HomePods as a stereo set for “an even more immersive sound experience.”
The Apple HomePod will be available to pre-order this Friday, January 26, with a launch on February 9.