Update 2: Apple HomePod is now available in USA, UK and Australia. You can order it on the Apple website or walk in a store to get one. It’s still not available in Canada yet. It is expected to arrive in Canada this Spring.
Update 1: Apple has delayed the launch of HomePod until next year. It was supposed to be available from December 2017 in USA, UK and Australia. But now Apple has confirmed that HomePod won’t be available to buy until early next year. It could now release in January 2018. We’ll keep you updated on the latest happenings. Here’s the statement from Apple:
“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK, and Australia in early 2018.”
The Apple HomePod, Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo and the Google Home, is all set to hit the shelves in December 2017. Confirming all rumors, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller finally revealed in the HomePod in the worldwide developers conference in June 2017. UK will be one of the first countries where the HomePod will first become available to users, along with Australia and United States, and other countries will soon follow. Canada, for one, has missed receiving the speaker at launch, but it will be getting its hands on the speaker early in 2018, along with the rest of the world.
Let’s find out what’s so special about this gadget.
The HomePod is a smart speaker from Apple. It is powered by Siri, will be compatible with all other Apple devices, and apparently boasts of great sound, if the test drives are anything to go by. The speaker has six directional microphones, seven tweeters, and two upward firing woofers. From the demos that we saw, the HomePod actually has great acoustics, and though it doesn’t exactly bring the party to the living room, it will certainly bring the house down. Almost each note is clear as crystal and distinct from the others. It makes for a great music system if you are throwing a party or want to learn how to play some songs on your instrument of choice.
The Apple HomePod is powered by Siri, which means it can perform all the tasks that Siri can. So, you can ask Siri to play a particular song of your choice, and it will do exactly that. And that is not all; the programming is more advanced, so you can pull up any information about the particular song you are playing, and if it is in the database, you will get the answer. For instance, you can ask who played the guitar in this particular song, where it was originally recorded, and the first live venue where it was performed and all that will be right there with you. Of course, you need to connect the speaker with your phone first to enable all those tasks.
Also read: Apple HomePod Siri Commands
There is, however, a downside to it all. The Apple HomePod does not connect with Google or with YouTube, so you will be able to play only those songs that are there in iTunes and in your own playlist. While the iTunes store is pretty vast in its own right, and you might have a considerable array of songs in your playlist, it might still not be enough, especially when compared to the Google Home. The Home plays music that draws from your playlist, YouTube, Google Music, and from the entire Google database. That’s a seriously wide plate.
Apple is being pretty tight-lipped about its smart speaker, so not much has been reveled so far. However, only recently, Apple publicly posted the code for the HomePod, so developers and programmers have been going gaga over it. The code has enable them to look into the working of the HomePod, and this means that they will also be able to make tweaks within the HomePod when they actually buy one, provided they have sufficient knowledge of course. So, from these developers we have come to know the following about the HomePod:
- The Apple HomePod is compatible with the HomeKit, which means you can control it remotely and use it to activate your other Apple devices in your home.
- It is also compatible with the Apple TV.
- The HomePod can be used to send messages as well.
- It has a shell called SoundBoard, which runs a full iOS stack.
- It is possible that the top surface acts as a screen. There are buttons on the top that can be used to control the volume, set alarms and timers, and to control Siri.
The Apple HomePod is most likely being priced at $349 USD, which sets it quite a few notches above both the Google Home and the Amazon Echo. In UK, the price tag will likely be no lower. Translated to UK pounds, the original value of the HomePod should be something around 270 GBP. However, the prices will certainly get higher after import taxes and other transatlantic business transaction taxations have been added to it, and the final price will probably be something around 349 GBP. In Canada, it can be expected to cost around 500 CAD, after adding taxations to the base exchange price rate of approximately 470 CAD.
There are still a few months left before the Apple HomePod hits the shelves in UK and some other lucky countries. It has generated a lot of buzz, and there is a lot of expectation surrounding this new offering from Apple. Enthusiasts are also waiting to see how he HomePod holds up in the competition against the two other giants in the smart speaker market: Amazon and Google. Only time will answer that.