Although information about the Apple HomePod has been floating around for the last year, there still wasn't a concrete release date announced. Now, Apple says it will release the smart speaker on Feb. 9.
The HomePod will be first released in the United States, UK, and Australia, followed by France and Germany in Spring.
Apple first announced the HomePod back in June 2017, and was preparing to release it for the holiday season of the same year. With the news that the Federal Communications Commission approved its distribution, a release date was imminent. Priced at $349, Apple will be looking to tackle high-end customers.
One of the draws of the HomePod will be that its assistant Siri will always be on, but will only respond to the command "Hey Siri." Apple says that it will not send any information to its servers unless the user says the voice command. Even when it is sent to its server, the information will be encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier.
Apple focus on the device will be its audio quality. The speaker will be connected to Apple Music, making it easy for users to listen to any song that they want in the vast music library. Besides music, Siri will be able to send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check the news, sports, traffic, and weather, and also control HomeKit smart home accessories.
Other smart speakers such as those offered by Amazon and Google have flooded the market. Both companies were able to get their home assistants out during the holiday season, despite taking a loss in profits. Their efforts were to get larger market share before Apple released the HomePod.
Apple says the HomePod will be easy to set-up. All users have to do to integrate iPhones with the speaker is hold them next to the HomePod, and the device will be set-up.
Multi-Room audio will not be available at the release of the HomePod. It will come through a free update by Apple later this year. Apple also says if two HomePods are together, users will be able to play audio through both for a stereo sound, it wasn't clear if this will be part of the update or will be a feature from the outset.
Although it has third-party integration, the extent to which it will be able to work with other apps is still not clear. Apple says users will be able to send messages through apps such as WhatsApp but doesn't expand the capabilities.
The HomePod will be available for pre-order on Friday.