You can now pre-order Apple's HomePod smart speaker

Apple's HomePod enters smart speaker fray

Apple has always been obsessed with music and, the sound on the HomePod is crisp and clear.

The HomePod works with Apple HomeKit, of course, though the only thing it really adds is voice functionality. It boasts a large woofer for bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters for high-frequency acoustics, and six microphones (meaning it can pick up a softly spoken "Hey Siri" from across the room, even when loud music is playing). Not long after this announcement, Sonos released the Sonos One, a version that has Alexa build in, and will soon have Google Assistant as well. Keep in mind the Google Home Max and the Sonos 1 both offer sound that will be close, but apple has a trick with the HomePod.

HomePod uses Siri as its smart assistant, and I will say that it worked nearly perfectly throughout the demo (save for a moment when Siri took it upon herself to start playing a podcast). With the Apple device, there are now no cheaper options. The HomePod probably isn't very useful to you either.

An update coming later this year will let you link two HomePods together for stereo sound, much like competitor speakers. Siri is definitely a big part of HomePod, but it's mostly there to facilitate your music experience, able to respond to granular commands about songs, playlists, and the like, as well as natural ones like, "Siri, turn it up".

Apple fans are a seriously dedicated bunch who want the latest Apple gear on the first day it's available.

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If you're interested in Apple's HomePod smart speaker, you can now preorder it through the Apple Store app. Like the Sonos One, Google Home, and Amazon Echo, the HomePod will also connect to a voice assistant, in this case Siri, to answer questions, send messages, and play music, among other tasks. You can still use HomePod for its other features, but you'll lose out on about half the device's capabilities. Since Apple put Siri on the iPhone 4S in 2011, every one of its smartphones has come with the intelligent assistant baked in. Since these smart speakers are a fixture of your home, it's fair to go with a product based on looks.

Some people only go for Apple when it comes to technology. Asking Siri to then play the news then provided a morning digest from the news source of your choosing. The future is smart homes.

It's also the only smart speaker that features compatibility with Apple Music which is sure to make it hugely popular with the millions of subscribers to this service. Three times in our short demo Siri failed to understand what was being asked of it.

Apple's new HomePod wireless speaker is now available for pre-order.


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