The much anticipated Apple HomePod is finally here. The new smart speaker, which is designed by the Cupertino giant to offer a premium sound experience with Siri integration, comes at a price of $349 (approximately Rs. 22,500), and is available for purchase in the US, UK, and Australia. Customers can place an order for the HomePod directly from Apple's online store, or purchase it from any nearby Apple Store.
Select Apple Authorised Resellers, including Best Buy in the US; Argos, Dixons Carphone (Currys PC World), John Lewis, Shop Direct (Very and Littlewoods), EE and Apple Premium Resellers in the UK; and The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra in Australia, have also started selling the HomePod locally. Pre-orders for the HomePod started on January 26.
Entering the smart speaker market where the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home already operate, Apple's HomePod features proprietary audio technology that comprises a high-excursion woofer equipped with a custom-engineered amplifier, an array of seven tweeters - each of which has its own amplifier and a transducer, and six microphones. The speaker is powered by Apple A8 chip that makes it a smarter option in the town. Further, there is Siri integration to let you interact with the HomePod directly using your own voice.
Reviews have praised the incredible audio quality of the HomePod, but panned its limited Siri integration when compared to the Echo and Google Home.
The 6.8-inch tall HomePod uses an advanced algorithm that is touted to continuously analyse the music and tune the low frequencies dynamically. Also, Apple plans to bring AirPlay 2 support sometime later this year to enable a stereo sound effect when two HomePods are connected wirelessly.
Apple has provided gesture controls on the HomePod that are featured on its top panel. These controls allow you to play, pause, skip a song, or adjust the volume with a single tap, in addition to voice controls. Users can play music from Apple Music or use their iTunes Match library to stream content directly from their music library using Siri. You will need an Apple device to set up a HomePod - Apple added HomePod support for compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models through iOS 11.2.5 that was released last month.
Apart from the launch markets, Apple has revealed plans to bring the smart speaker to France and Germany this spring. There's no word on the launch in India and other markets.