When unexplained delays pushed Apple’s debut smart speaker back from a 2017 release, Apple said it needed “a little more time before it’s ready” and promised an “early 2018" release. Now it seems Apple is making good on its revised launch window, as the HomePod will officially go on sale on February 9th.
Initially, the £319 smart speaker will be available in the US, UK and Australia, with pre-orders going up on Friday, January 26th, before expanding to other countries including Germany and France later this spring.
When it was first unveiled back in the summer, the HomePod’s main marketing advantage was allegedly superior audio. The device features a large woofer and seven beam-forming tweeters arrayed 360 degrees around the HomePod’s body. However, in the time since its announcement, both Amazon and Google have released their own premium smart speakers with high quality audio, which puts Apple in the awkward position of having to play catch-up.
At launch, the HomePod won’t support multi-room audio, which could be a real bummer for people with dreams of using a HomePod to control music throughout their home. According to Apple, that functionality will arrive sometime later this year as part of a free software update.
That said, the HomePod can perform most other traditional smart speaker duties such as setting reminders, creating to-do lists, and controlling any Home Kit-compatible devices like smart lights or a thermostat.