Apple will release its $349 HomePod speaker on February 9th

Apple has announced it will release the HomePod on February 9th and that preorders for the device will start this Friday, January 26th. The smart speaker will initially go on sale in the US, UK, and Australia. It’ll then arrive in France and Germany sometime this spring.

The company’s first smart speaker was originally supposed to go on sale before the end of the 2017, but it was delayed in mid-December. That meant Apple missed a holiday season where millions of smart speakers were sold — but the market for voice-activated speakers is clearly just getting started. And at $349, Apple’s speaker is playing in a very different market than Amazon’s and Google’s primarily cheap and tiny speakers. The HomePod is being positioned more as a competitor to Sonos’ high-end wireless speakers than as a competitor to the plethora of inexpensive smart speakers flooding the market.

Despite the delay, Apple doesn’t appear to have made any changes to the HomePod — the smart speaker appears to be exactly what was announced back in June, at WWDC. The focus here continues to be on music and sound quality, rather than the speaker’s intelligence, which is the core focus of many competitors’ products. The speaker will still have an always-on voice assistant, but Apple’s implementation of Siri here will be more limited than what’s present on other devices.

Even though the speaker goes on sale this Friday, there are still some key details we don’t know. Apple has designed the speaker to work with Apple Music first and foremost, and it’s not clear how the speaker will work if you’re, say, a Spotify subscriber instead. It’s very possible that voice just won’t be supported. Siri also isn’t as capable here as it is on other iOS devices, with the voice assistant limited to certain categories of third-party integrations. While those don’t seem to have changed since launch, we likely have to wait for Apple’s next developer conference to get a sense for quickly the company intends to expand what it can do.

Apple also says that multi-room audio won’t be supported until later this year, with a software update. While this was once a rare feature, the ability to synchronize playback across multiple wireless speakers is something that has slowly been added by most other smart speaker makers and is now pretty much an expected feature. Stereo playback, for when two HomePods are present in the same room, won’t be available at launch either and will have to wait for this update.

Comments

…it’s developing so fast Jacob couldn’t finish his

Yeah I agree, what a load of crap. I mean I’ve read in the past others saying that the apple bias is real, but I’ve never paid much attention. Man this article illustrates that very point. Let me see if I can sum this up:

Apple missed the holiday season…but the market for voice-activated speakers is clearly just getting started
Apple’s speaker is playing in a very different market than Amazon’s and Google’s primarily cheap and tiny speakers
plethora of inexpensive smart speakers flooding the market
Apple’s speaker is playing in a very different market than Amazon’s and Google’s primarily cheap and tiny speakers
Apple’s implementation of Siri here will be more limited than what’s present on other devices
we likely have to wait for Apple’s next developer conference to get a sense for quickly the company intends to expand what it can do
Apple also says that multi-room audio won’t be supported until later this year, with a software update

Still no mention of whether HomePod can pair with AppleTV to be used as sound bar/ home theater replacement. I live in a studio apartment and currently have a Sonos Soundbar, so this will determine whether I get one. No need for a separate sound system apart from my TV system. It would be silly to miss this obvious use case, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen on day one…

It can’t be.

AppleTV has AirPlay 2.0 Of course it can pair with HomePod. I have my AppleTV paired with my Harman Kardon Aura via AirPlay. tvOS has made adjustments to make this a better experience. UI sounds still play on the tv but music or video audio play on the speaker in perfect syncwkth what’s on screen.

Apple has AirPlay 2 listed on the homepod page as coming later this year (as well as stereo sound with a second homepod). However it will have Airplay at launch and you can send your AppleTv sound to it.

I think it’s funny how Black Dude says confidently "It can’t be."

Because this.

According to some images that we find in the internal files of the system, the pairing of the HomePod (codenamed B238) will be very similar to the AirPods wireless headphones. When you turn on the speaker for the first time, iOS will ask the user if they want to perform the setup with that iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. It will not be possible to set up a HomePod for Mac or Apple TV – although it is very likely that the device will work normally with them later.

I don’t get this, why? If it only works with the AppleTV, is that ALL you use? Whereas a SoundBar works with everything. I have a soundbar for my Computer Monitor now. It’s a 34" Ultrawide. it has Bluetooth support so I could link my iPhone to it and play music.
I have a 5.1 setup in my family room. That works with everything. I can AirPlay to that Reciever. Then stream Music from any source. Not just Apple Music only.

A killer feature would be if the AppleTV implemented ARC to act as a receiver from your TV to play all content on HomePod. I’d instantly buy the max number of HomePods that such a system would support.

Sonos Playbase is nice, but the fact that it uses SPDIF is very limiting. No CEC, no Atmos, no DD+.

While it certainly is looking promising considering how well Apple’s protocols work together, I just can’t see Siri being a viable assistant considering how absolutely garbage she is on the iPhone. Meanwhile, a Google Home Mini and a Chromecast with existing hi-fi speakers offers more than your money’s worth for a smart home integration, and even when the HomePod releases, there’ll sure be a price drop on the Google Home Max.

I am honestly curious what people’s objections to Siri are. Does she not understand you? Does she not support the actions that you want? I have yet to have a bad experience with Siri although my use case is admitted limited mostly to responding to texts or calls and controlling audio playback while I’m driving and it has never let me down.

For me it juggles between her not understanding me for anything beyond simple commands (timers), or getting the transcription right, but then wildly changing it after I’ve finished talking.

Ask siri ‘What is the difference between triple sec and grand marnier’ , then as google assistant the same Q. G gives you answers, Siri tells you to look up results.

What normal person ask such questions? Lol

So long as Siri gets the basics and general questions people ask these assistance there’s no problem.

Normal people ask all kinds of questions. Not going to speak on other assistants but in terms of general knowledge you’d want the assistance to have some skills there. Helpful in aiding conversations for sure.

Reports show that most ‘normals’ using such assistants ask the very basics, weather, sports, timer, appointments, jokes etc. Things Siri already does well from my experience with it. But surely Apple has also been improving Siri.

Not true for the Google home. I suspect true for the Echo as it can not really answer anything but basic questions.

"Reports show"

Who are you, Fox News? Provide sources.

Is that because that’s all they would want out of their assistants or is it because that’s what they’re conditioned to ask after being disappointed by past failed attempts at using assistants like Siri which has more limited application than some of its competitors.

I was under the impression that all voice assistants were only used to play music and set timers. All other requests are an aberration. I don’t think Siri is much better or worse than any competition when you take this into account.

then you have not used Google Assistant side by side with Siri

Yes, but who would pay over the odds just to do the basics on an assistant and get maybe or maybe not noticeably better sound quality? Still have quite a few questions about this device.

You need kids to come up with more creative questions. Just in the last 24 hours we’ve had Google Assistant tell us how the speed of light was measured and what a MacGuffin is. We’ve had our Google Home for about a year now, and now any time I can’t answer whatever random question about the world they’ve come up with their first response is to tell me to ask Google for them. If they don’t just go ask Google themselves.

For me the value proposition is control over features when I cannot use my fingers for input. If I want to learn I’m going to sit down and explore. I’ve never been motivated by these knowledge questions in the same way I wouldn’t ask a real person to compose a report on these questions for me. Sure. Maybe assistant can settle arguments at parties but

As someone who uses SIRI all the time. Mostly on my Apple Watch. Siri works Fantastic!!! I can pretty much do anything these so-called Smart Speakers can do, except I’m not locked in a room by a power cord. I’m also a growing Homekit house. So I’m turning on/off lights. Adjusting the temp. Opening and Closing my garage door, etc.

Siri has no problem understanding me and what I’m asking. By the way, because I don’t just take peoples word for things, I also have an Alexa Dot (Besides Alexa built in my Ecobee 4) and a Google Home Mini to also play around with.

I have no problem setting timers, an Appointment, a Reminder, asking when the 49ers play next. Answering or calling out a voice call. Sending/receiving messages, etc, etc, etc.

I can say NONE of them are perfect. They all have their strong points and weaker points.

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