Apple’s HomePod smart speaker is now available to preorder through the Apple Store app at a whooping sum of 349 USD, with shipping scheduled to start on the 9th of February 2018. In spite of the delay in the launch of the speaker, the HomePod will ship without features like AirPlay 2, which allows pairing and multiroom audio. According to Apple, those features will be “coming this year in a free software update.” HomePod is powered by Apple’s A8 chip (that first appeared in the iPhone 6) and features built-in Siri, six microphones, HomeKit support to control your compatible smart home devices, and the ability to automatically better enhance sound for a given room.
A few individuals who have had some time to take a look at the gadget say the Apple smart speaker “sounds really good in the demos” with “more bass than you expect from such a small speaker.” But then again, there will be a need for some real time to be spent with it before one can say it’s actually worth $349.
According to reports that we have received from our sources, Apple’s smart speaker offering is the most expensive of its rivals at this size. The much larger and more powerful Google Hone Max costs $399, while the standard Google Home is $129, and Amazon Echo is $99.99. HomePod is also rivaled by the Sonos One smart speaker. To ruffle Apple’s feathers, Sonos is offering two Sonos One speakers for $349, the price of a single HomePod. Sonos One supports Amazon Alexa integration, and it is promising Google Assistant integration sometime later this year.
Our sources say the HomePod is available for preorder now in the US, UK, and Australia in black or white. The smart speaker will be available in France and Germany this spring.