Apple's Smart Speaker HomePod Finally Hits The Market

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On Tuesday, the tech giant said its new smart speaker will hit stores on Friday, February 9.

The HomePod version of Siri reportedly cannot read out calendar entries or add new ones-something that the iPhone version of Siri can do just fine. Apple has marketed the HomePod as a smart "musicologist" for the home since it was revealed at the Worldwide Developers Conference last June in San Jose.

With the launch, Apple is taking on existing smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo ($100) and Google Home ($129).

One of the unanswered questions leading up to HomePod's launch has been how Apple's retail stores will display the speaker.

There's a long history of companies snarkily welcoming major new entrants to the space they're known for, famously going back to Apple's "Welcome, IBM".

From a "smart speaker" perspective, HomePod's strongest suit is its six-microphone array, which can hear you say "Hey Siri" at a distance at a reasonable volume, even when the speakers are loudly playing music.

Another shared complaint was the HomePod's straitjacket boundaries when using non-Apple apps.

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Apple Music can be controlled by voice commands to Siri.

Alexa works across Amazon devices and a rapidly growing number of non-Amazon devices. First, HomePod puts more focus on audio performance than technology-led home assistance which he state should be the "core value" of a smart speaker. The speaker is powered by Apple A8 chip that makes it a smarter option in the town. Google Home only supports the Google calendar, while the Invoke supports both Google and Microsoft calendars. Also, Apple plans to bring AirPlay 2 support sometime later this year to enable a stereo sound effect when two HomePods are connected wirelessly.

But Sonos didn't just call the Homepod "Fruit Machine".

A number of features have yet to arrive before HomePod feels feature-complete.

If you don't already have favorite podcasts, mind, HomePod isn't so helpful. We expect this will be fixed in a software update, but it's a very surprising omission from any speaker, let alone a "smart speaker".

Again, Apple's insistence on forcing its users into its walled garden limits the device's appeal (you better make sure you're ready to cough up for an Apple Music subscription to get the most out of the HomePod, for example).