What ever happened to the Apple HomePod? All you need to know ahead of the iPhone event

Apple HomePod: Everything you need to know right now

The Apple HomePod release date is nearly upon us, so here’s a complete guide to Apple’s first smart speaker, including the Apple HomePod price, specs, key features and UK release information.

Despite being non-existent only a few years ago, the smart speaker industry has quickly boomed and digital assistants are now the must-have tech for 2017. Much of this is thanks to the Amazon Echo and its Alexa AI, the blistering success of which prompted rivals to start taking the sector seriously.

Google was quick to the fray, launching the Google Home smart speaker in 2016. The Echo rival was fuelled by the company’s powerful Google Assistant software, and is already available to buy in the UK. Microsoft has also debuted a third-party speaker – the Harmon Kardon Invoke – running on its own Cortana.

So it’s no surprise that Apple is keen to join the fight, and that’s where HomePod comes in.

Related: Apple HomePod vs Amazon Echo

What is Apple HomePod? Apple’s smart speaker explained

Apple HomePod is the first smart speaker developed by Apple Inc., and it’s a direct rival to Google Home and the Amazon Echo.

It was announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5, although it won’t be available for many more months still. Apple had to show investors that it was engaged in the smart speaker market, which is probably why it opted to showcase the device in late spring rather than its annual September event.

That said, we’re expecting to learn a lot more at Apple’s September 12 iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch event, where final details of the HomePod are set to be revealed.

The smart speaker will work just like Echo and Home, insofar as it will come with built-in audio capabilities and bundled AI software – in this case, Siri.

You’ll be able to ask it to perform tasks using your voice, like playing audio via Apple Music or asking what the weather will be like in your local area. It’s expected that the HomePod’s arsenal of skills will quickly grow, and the voice recognition is also likely to improve over time too.

Related: iPhone launch event live stream

Apple HomePod Release Date: When is it out in the UK?

Apple hasn’t been very specific about a HomePod release date, which makes it tricky for anyone trying to decide on a smart speaker to own.

According to official information, the Apple HomePod release date will fall some time in December 2017, although we’ve not got an exact date. However, expect that to change at Apple’s annual September product launch event where full HomePod release details should be made public.

Related: 4K Apple TV

apple homepod

We’d imagine (or hope, at least) that it will be early December, so that Apple can bank on the seasonal spending. The problem is that this means Apple will miss out on Black Friday 2017, where it’s likely that many customers will decide to pick up an Amazon Echo, given that the device will almost certainly be discounted.

If Apple launches too late in December, it could be very bad for sales indeed. Given Apple’s propensity to launch new gadgets on a Friday or Saturday, we’d suggest the following dates as most likely for a release:

  • Friday, December 1
  • Saturday, December 2
  • Friday, December 8
  • Saturday, December 9
  • Friday, December 14
  • Saturday, December 15

The good news, however, is that the device’s December launch has already been confirmed for three locations: the UK, USA, and Australia.

Related: Google Home vs Amazon Echo

Apple HomePod Design, Specs and Features

The Apple HomePod is a small pod-like speaker that measures 170mm x 150mm. It’s fairly heavy at 2.5kg – that’s more than a couple of MacBooks, for example. The top of the device is smooth, and features a touchscreen that displays a dynamic waveform – Siri users will be familiar with this. The rest of the device features the usual pimpled exterior of a speaker. It will be available in ‘White’ and ‘Space Grey’ colour options.

apple homepod

Inside the device, you’ll find seven tweeters embedded in the base and a four-inch woofer towards the top. There are also six microphones around the HomePod’s mid-section, which are used for voice pick-up and gauging the acoustics of the room.

The speaker will utilise the Siri digital assistant that’s already available on iOS devices, and will feature 1GB of RAM and a 272 x 340-pixel touchscreen. The firmware for the device was leaked in July 2017, so developers are already becoming familiar with how the device will work ahead of time.

Apple HomePod Price: How much will it cost?

The Apple HomePod price is set at £349 in the UK and $349 in the USA.

For comparison, here’s how much rival speakers cost in the UK:

  • Amazon Echo: £149.99 / $179.99
  • Google Home: £129 / $129

The problem is that the Apple HomePod is going to cost significantly more – over double, in fact – than its two closest rivals. That’s going to make it very difficult for customers to justify spending big on an Apple HomePod unless Apple can make a seriously good case for why it’s speaker is at least twice as good as its competitors.

Related: Amazon Echo Show vs Amazon Echo

Tell us what you think of the Apple HomePod in the comments below.

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