Apple confirmed on Tuesday that its wireless speaker HomePod will arrive in stores on February 9th and is available to order online January 26th in the US, UK and Australia. HomePod will be on sale in France and Germany sometime this spring.
Announced in June at WWDC, the Siri-equipped speaker features a seven-speaker array of tweeters, a four-inch subwoofer, and a six-microphone array. HomePod is designed to work with an Apple Music subscription ($9.99/monthly) to access more than 45 million songs, and it can play content purchased from iTunes, and listen to podcasts without needing a subscription. However, the speaker is unable to access to songs in your home iTunes library that are not acquired through a purchase, and it does not include support for other third party music services like Spotify, though you could still use AirPlay to sync the songs in the 3rd party service to the HomePod.
It was originally planed to go on sale before the end of the 2017, but in mid-December Apple delayed the release to early 2018, explaining that it needed more time to work on HomePod. Now Apple gives more details for the HomePod. This long-waited speaker is priced at $349 in US, £319 in UK and A$499 in Australia. That price exceeds much than that of its rivals, given that Amazon Echo is priced at £149.99/$179.99, Google Home at £129/$129, and Sonos One at £199.
The speaker is compatible with iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation) with iOS 11.2.5 or later. It will be able to play music, send messages, set alarms, respond to voice commands, search for information online, control a wide range of HomeKit smart home accessories, etc.
Meanwhile, Apple on Tuesday released iOS 11.2.5 update, which introduces support for the HomePod. According to the release notes, iOS 11.2.5 allows users to setup and automatically transfer Apple ID, Apple Music, Siri and Wi-Fi settings to HomePod. As for the multi-room audio feature, Apple plan to add the support later this year in a free software update, and users will be able to play music throughout the house.