Apple has made HomePod official. Here are its features, price and release date info that you need to know about.

Much to the delight of music fans around the world, Apple has used this year’s opening WWDC keynote to introduce HomePod, a brand new speaker system that looks to compete with other intelligent smart speakers on the market. We were expecting this announcement but had no idea that it would be left until the very end of the keynote. Phil Schiller was very keen to announce that this wasn’t just another home speaker system.

The stunning little HomePod comes equipped with an A8 chip, which is the same powerful processor that powers Apple’s iPhone hardware. It has a seven beam-forming tweeter array for maximum and great audio quality, and precision acoustic horns with built-in directional control. And of course, given the fact that Apple loves its engineering and taking things to the next level, it also has an Apple-designed subwoofer for that next-level audio experience. HomePod features support for AirPlay 2 built-in, and can also be used together in multiple configuration for surround sound like SONOS.

When speculation about HomePod first surfaced a matter of weeks ago, it was referred to as a Siri-powered speaker with a design taking inspiration from the now-defunct Mac Pro. That design speculation was definitely true, with a wraparound mesh finish that makes it look beautiful. There’s also advanced spatial awareness functionality to ensure that it knows and adapts to the surroundings that it finds itself in and adjusts the audio output accordingly. It also makes perfect sense for HomePod to have direct tie-ins with Apple Music, with Siri commands always on hand to instantly start playing music and skip between songs.

Like other speakers of this nature, it also works as an intelligent home assistant rather than just as a speaker. Like devices such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home, it can provide the latest news, control HomeKit devices, give answers to questions, and even give sporting information on demand.

Rather than simply shouting “Alexa” like you would with an Echo, the HomePod responds to the “Hey Siri” command that will be extremely familiar to iPhone and iPad owners.

The stunning little HomePod will come finished in White and Space Gray, will cost $349 and start shipping this coming December in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom. The price may be a little elevated in comparison to other similar devices on the market, but with this featuring way better sound than both Echo and Home, the price according to Apple is justified.

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