Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the HomePod this Friday, January 26. The device will launch on Friday, February 9, and will be available in Apple Stores on that date. Pricing will be set at $349.
At launch, the HomePod will be available in the US, UK, and Australia. It'll arrive in France and Germany this spring.
The HomePod is Apple's take on the new smart speaker market. The device is under 7 inches tall and packs in a 7-tweeter array, a high-excursion woofer, and a 6-microphone array. Also included is Siri, which you can use to ask questions, get details on news, weather, traffic, and sports, hand off phone calls, send messages, control smart home accessories, and more. Bluetooth 5 is in there, too.
The top of the HomePod is home to a touch surface that you can use to control music playback and summon Siri. For example, a single tap will play or pause your music, a double tap will go to the next track, and a triple tap will go to the previous track. You can also touch and hold the surface to use Siri.
Apple says that two HomePod features won't be available in time for launch. Early adopters will not be able to use two HomePods for stereo sound or place HomePods in different rooms of their home for multi-room audio. These features will become available later in 2018.
It's disappointing that it took Apple's HomePod 8 months to get to market, but it's exciting to see the device finally ready for launch. The device's arrival means that another major player is getting into the smart speaker game and bringing some competition to Amazon and Google. We'll have to wait a week and a half before we know how well the Apple HomePod performs, but more competition can help everyone in the smart speaker market improve, and that's a good thing.