27 January, 2018
The devices should be running on iOS 11.2.5 or later to work with the HomePod.
Squeezed into that small body, a custom subwoofer is joined by an array of seven beam-forming tweeters to provide the high frequency, supposedly with the added benefit of directional control. The HomePod smart speaker is priced at a premium price of $349, which is a lot higher than the current smart speakers on the market available from Amazon and Google. Currently, the Apple Store app makes no mention of the speaker, but we do expect it to appear once the preorder floodgates open. Instead, you'll have to use your phone.
You can pair two HomePods to create a stereo pair. The plan, Sonos says, is to support AirPlay 2 - the streaming music system that Apple will rely on for HomePod's eventual multi-room feature - later in 2018.
Apple rumors didn't stop coming this week, but they all took second place to HomePod, the company's upcoming smart speaker. Technically, preorders in Australia will begin on January 27, according to Apple's own website, though it seems like this could be due to the time difference, not because they'll start at a later time. Google joined the market in 2016, two years after Amazon debuted its pioneering Echo.
Apple also confirmed that, through a free software update later this year, users will be able to play music throughout the house with multi-room audio - this effectively means the speaker will directly compete with Sonos.More news: YouTube is pulling down videos of USA teenagers eating detergent
There are some huge problems with Apple's proposition that limit HomePod's potential appeal.
Its smart home control capabilities are strong, though.
The installed base of smart speakers grew by 18 million units in the December quarter, CIRP reported. While that's great when it comes to such features as Handoff - which lets you answer calls from your iPhone on your MacBook - it puts Apple at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to music. Well, then the HomePod with its intelligent personal assistant Siri is where it's at.
But I walked away feeling impressed and surprised by how much I liked how it sounded, and found myself imagining how it would fit into my home life. But probably more than any product of late, many experts in the consumer electronics space are not anywhere near sure Apple will succeed with the HomePod, even with those who can and will afford its lofty price.
Until we're able to test it further, there's no way to know whether HomePod's fantastic sound quality outweighs the downsides.