Hey Siri! Apple's HomePod Smart Speaker Makes Its Debut

Hey Siri! Apple's HomePod Smart Speaker Makes Its Debut

Apple said today it will start taking online orders for its HomePod smart speaker on Friday in the UK, US and Australia; just over a month later than initially planned.

Apple announced Tuesday that its HomePod speaker device - the company's version of Amazon Echo or Google Home - will be released february 9 for $349.

Apple said the HomePod initially will be available in the US, United Kingdom and Australia, and will arrive in France and Germany this spring.

Before the press release, Apple had given an update on Siri usage last June, at its 2017 WWDC conference, where it said that some 375 million customers regularly used it.

Not only is HomePod support touted to be a major part of the iOS 11.2.5 update, Apple has also added features to Siri.

It's powered by Apple's Siri virtual assistant, and can be controlled by voice commands. How will it stand against rivals like the Amazon Echo and Google Home?

It builds on a feature introduced in the last update, iOS 11.2.2, which let you ask Siri to recite the news but was limited to content from select sources.

Apple's HomePod will come in White and Space Grey, and thanks to its built-in HomeKit support, it'll allow you to control smart appliances around your home, even by using your iPhone from another location.

A big problem for the HomePod will likely be to do with Siri, which is actually quite far behind when compared to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

HomePod's ability to play across rooms or be set up with other speakers will not be available until later this year with a software update. With a multi-HomePod setup, you can set all speakers to play the same song from Apple Music or set it to play a different one in a separate room. Apple says that the Wireless Speaker Brings Advanced Audio Technologies Into Any Home for an Incredible Music Listening Experience.

Smart speakers and AI assistants have been on the rise since a year ago.

Here are the essentials that you need to know about the HomePod launch...

"It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalogue and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, handsome design that is so much fun to use", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

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