Apple will release its speaker, HomePod, on Feb. 9, the company announced today. Pre-orders will begin on Friday, Jan. 26.
The $349 smart speaker was delayed last year after originally being set to release by the end of 2017. That meant that Apple missed shipping over the crucial holiday season where people buying speakers may have opted for models with Alexa or Google Assistant.
The HomePod has Apple's Siri on board, and we're expecting some new tricks. Apple has suggested that it will focus more on audio quality than smart home functionality, putting it more in line with speakers from Sonos than Google or Amazon (with perhaps the exception of the Google Home Max).
It appears, though, that you won't be able to get multi-room audio at launch, like you can with competing speakers. Using multiple HomePods to fill your home with audio, as well as the ability to pair two HomePods for stereo sound in the same room, are marked on Apple's website as "coming later this year." Several reports suggest it will be available in a free software update, but we don't know when.
Just yesterday we learned that the HomePod will likely offer custom scenes for your home that can be quickly activated. The information was leaked by a developer who discovered a hidden image inside Apple's Home app.
So, for instance, you might be able to turn on light and control other smart home functions with a single command, whether it's through the app or Siri. In addition, the developer discovered that the HomePod will likely be able to support multiple accounts and identify specific voices.
We'll test the speaker for sound quality as well as to see how smart Siri can be when it arrives in our labs.