Apple has announced a release date for its HomePod speaker system, with the new device scheduled to arrive in stores on Feb. 9, and pre-orders opening this Friday in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Originally announced last June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference for a late 2017 release, Apple later acknowledged that the new speaker system would be delayed saying the company “need[ed] a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.”
The new HomePod is Apple’s entry into the smart speaker market, however while it includes Siri based voice control and HomeKit integration, Apple has also taken the unique approach of focusing more heavily on the sound design to provide “stunning audio quality wherever it’s placed” packing an Apple A8 chip that powers advanced real-time acoustic modelling, audio bream-forming, and echo cancellation that allows the speaker to sense its location in the room and adjust the audio soundstage accordingly. Siri integration will also allow HomePod users to play Apple Music tracks, send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check news, sports, traffic, and weather, and control HomeKit accessories all by voice. While Apple also originally indicated HomePod would support multi-room audio, it appears that this feature won’t be ready for the initial release, with Apple promising that it will instead be “coming this year in a free software update” that will also allow users to ask Siri to play music in different rooms or pair to HomePods for an improved stereo sound experience. HomePod will be available at Apple Stores and a wide variety of Apple Authorized Resellers in the U.S., U.K., and Australia on Feb. 9, and will require an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 11.2.5 or later.