Apple’s comin’ for the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Sonos’s product line with the HomePod, a voice-controlled smart speaker and home tech hub.
Unveiled at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)—Apple’s news feast for coders, software engineers, and the tech-obsessed—in San Jose, California, the HomePod got positive early reviews, albeit with a few caveats: Our sister site, The Verge, noted that “in a controlled demo, with specific songs designed to show off the HomePod’s strengths, we heard it do some pretty impressive audio tricks.” In other words, conditions for showing it off were optimal at yesterday’s demo.
The “tricks” in question seem mostly to do with things like the quality of the bass output and using microphone technology to direct different elements of a song—say, its vocal line and backing piano—to different parts of a room for the optimal listening experience.
It seems Apple is relying on the quality of the audio from its smart speaker to set it apart from what is quickly becoming a crowded and competitive field. HomePod, of course, will come with the Siri assistant and work with HomeKit-compatible smart home devices, such as lighting, locks, and smoke alarms.
Originally slated for release in December 2017, HomePods will go on sale on February 9 in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, with preorders launching this Friday, January 26. It’s priced at $349.