Apple HomePod Smart-Speaker Available February 9, Pre-Order Now
After clearing FCC regulations last week, it was correct to assume the HomePod smart-speaker would be shortly available. The new device is currently taking online pre-orders and will be available for in-store purchases beginning Friday, February 9. HomePod is Apple’s second modern push into enhancing the audio experience for consumers and with Siri voice assistant, HomePod is up against many cheaper speakers with similar capabilities. The true advantage for Apple is the advanced audio experience.
Apple HomePod Audio
Although 7 inches tall, the new speaker is touted by Apple to represent several hardware and software innovations, which the Cupertino company outlines in their press release:
- Advanced real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and echo cancellation, which is powered by Apple’s A8 chipset, to provide a broad soundstage.
- As shown above, it automatically adjusts audio to fill a location with sound, bouncing audio off the back wall, as well as sending it directly forward to the listening area.
- On board Apple-designed woofer pairs with a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeter providing a large frequency separation.
- With software similarly found in AirPods, setup is simply enabled by holding an iPhone next to the HomePod, allowing the two devices to share connection details, like WiFi network and passwords.
HomePod Apple Music
HomePod is designed to specifically take advantage of Apple’s subscription music service, Apple Music. Using Siri, users can simply ask for specific songs, albums, artists, or even pick from top charts and simply “play something totally different.” Interestingly, HomePod can be used to play purchased iTunes music from a specific Apple ID library, without the need to subscribe to Apple Music. Finally, HomePod is an AirPlay speaker, meaning any app using AirPlay can send sound to the speaker via WiFi. However, this audio must be driven from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. There will be no additional native apps on the device.
Apple HomePod Controls
As mentioned, Siri voice control will be the main interactive option for users wanting to manipulate the device from afar. In addition, the HomePod top includes a touch sensitive LED panel. From this screen, users can manipulate the music or invoke Siri with a touch. Otherwise “Hey Siri” will wake up the assistant.
HomePod will also be able to manipulate HomeKit enable devices like light switches, wall outlets, thermostats, ceiling fans, and lights. Any other requests users expect from Siri on their iOS devices will be naturally included through this experience like: sport scores; weather; news; and setting timers or alarms.
How to Buy Apple HomePod
Apple started a pre-order program, continuing until Friday, February 9, at which point the device will be available via brick and mortar locations. The device is $349 and comes in White or Space Gray. At the time of writing, pre-orders still promise a launch day delivery.