Apple's HomePod speaker delayed until next year

Apple's HomePod speaker delayed until next year

The HomePod, Apple's Siri-powered smart speaker, won't be released until next year, Apple said Friday.

Apple's offering promises higher-end sound than the Google Home and Amazon Echo produces, albeit at a much larger $349 price tag. Apple meant to release the $349 HomePod in early December so it could be on holiday shopping lists and compete against Amazon's Echo and the Google Home speaker.

It's not clear exactly what issues led to Apple's decision. "We'll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018".

Apple now says it needs more time to ideal the speaker's technology. You better come up with another gift, because HomePod won't be released in time. HomePod promises to automatically configure itself according to the room it's in, too, using a microphone to adjust its equalizer settings and DSP depending on whether it's on a bookshelf, a table in the middle of a room, or competing with a second HomePod.

Apple's main pitch for its HomePod smart speakers was superior audio quality, but that advantage appears to be slipping: Sonos, which also pitches its speakers' audio quality for music lovers, now features support for the Alexa voice assistant.

HomePod is created to work with an Apple Music subscription and iPhone 5s and above running iOS 11. But unlike other companies, Apple is hesitant to open up its speaker to third-party developers. You can stream other services to it from a smartphone, but not with Siri.

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