Apple announced news on Tuesday (Jan. 23) that HomePod, its voice-activated speaker, will hit store shelves on Feb. 9.
In a press release, the iPhone maker said that online orders for the new device in the U.S., U.K. and Australia will open up on Friday (Jan. 26), with HomePod arriving in France and Germany sometime in the spring.
According to Apple, the HomePod will have “stunning” audio quality wherever it is placed in one’s home and can play any style music. Users will be able to use their voices to activate Apple Music. Siri, its voice-activated virtual assistant has developed a lot of knowledge about music and can now understand the preferences and tastes of its users. HomePod can also send messages, set a timer, play podcasts, check the news and sports scores, acquire traffic info and weather updates and control smart home accessories. The HomePod is just under 7 in. tall.
“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 catalog and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, beautiful design that is so much fun to use,” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in the press release. “We’re so excited for people to get HomePod into their homes, apartments and businesses to hear it for themselves. We think they will be blown away by the audio quality. The team has worked to give Siri a deeper knowledge of music so that you can ask [it] to play virtually anything, from your personal favorites to the latest chart-topping releases, simply by saying ‘Hey, Siri.’”
Apple’s much-awaited HomePod launch is the latest in the voice-powered smart speaker war that was spawned by the success Amazon has had with its Echo line of speakers that are powered by Alexa. The HomePod will sell for $349 and comes in white and space gray. Amazon’s Echo speakers cost a lot less and were in big demand during the holiday shopping season.