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Latest iOS update goes live, is HomePod ready

25 January 2018

Apple's exceptionally long-awaited Siri-powered "smart speaker", the Apple HomePod, will be available for pre-order from Friday.

HomePod is available at an Apple retail price of $349 (US) in white and space gray in the US, UK and Australia and available to order beginning Friday, January 26, from apple.comand the Apple Store app.

The device was announced last May at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose with a December target date.

Apple originally meant to release the smart speaker system by the end of 2017, but the company delayed production in mid-December, according to The Verge. With built-in Siri, you can set reminders, check messages or control your smart home appliances with your voice.

Siri news podcast is only available for the United States, Australia and UK - the three countries where the HomePod is due for launch in February.

Apple may have a hard time getting people to fork out for the HomePod when they could get several Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speakers for the same amount of money.

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However, arriving late to market is one of Apple's operating methods, as noted by our sister site ZDNet: The company has allowed competitors to come first and make mistakes, before adding their own premium product later that solves the problems.

The HomePod is a direct rival to the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. Apple bills HomePod as a powerful speaker that packs Siri to take your listening experience to an all-new level.

There are also touch controls on top, so you can still control some HomePod features without using your voice.

Undecided Apple users who have been considering investing in a smart speaker are likely already awaiting the HomePod, despite its high price and lack of certain features. However, the tech giant made a decision to move the HomePod's release to early 2018. They also offer greater functionality; Amazon's Alexa, for example, can perform thousands of commands compared with hundreds by Siri.

Smart speakers and AI assistants have been on the rise since previous year.

"It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalogue and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, attractive design that is so much fun to use", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. But if you're looking for a really smart speaker that will change how you live your life, Siri isn't going to cut it.

Latest iOS update goes live, is HomePod ready