Apple HomePod to Launch in United States, UK and Australia on February 9, Available to Pre-Order this Friday
Apple has today announced that its HomePod speaker will Launch in the United States, UK and Australia on February 9, with orders beginning Friday, January 26 via Apple's online store or the Apple Store app.
HomePod will also be available from select resellers in each country, such as Best Buy in the United States, John Lewis and Argos in the UK, and Harvey Norman and Telstra in Australia.
In it's press release, Apple had the following to say about HomePod:
“HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple. It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalog and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, beautiful design that is so much fun to use,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We’re so excited for people to get HomePod into their homes, apartments and businesses to hear it for themselves. We think they will be blown away by the audio quality. The team has worked to give Siri a deeper knowledge of music so that you can ask to play virtually anything from your personal favorites to the latest chart-topping releases, simply by saying ‘Hey Siri.’”
According to MacRumors, HomePod will support commands from multiple users:
HomePod will not be limited to a single user, as suggested and confirmed in the HomePod documentation. Once the HomePod is set up, anyone in the home will be able to listen to music using the Apple Music account installed on the device, and anyone will be able to ask Siri questions.
HomePod appears to be best suited for use with an Apple Music subscription. Without this, HomePod will be able to play content that's been purchased from iTunes along with Beats 1 radio and podcasts.
In the information shared today, Apple states that the HomePod's multi-room audio and stereo features won't be available at launch, with owners having to wait for them to be activated in a software update some time this year. With no indication of exactly when we will see this update, this will be a disappointment to those who were planning on buying more than one HomePod to make use of these features.
For now, we know the following in regard to what Apple has done to accommodate the needs of blind and low vision users:
- VoiceOver: HomePod’s top surface is VoiceOver compatible so changing the volume or starting playback isn’t reliant on sight.
- Touch Accommodations: With Touch Accommodations you can adjust how HomePod’s top surface responds to your touch. For example, you can control how long you touch before it’s recognized or whether to ignore repeat touches. So you can put your finger down anywhere on the HomePod top surface and move to the item you want without inadvertently performing a separate action.
- Home app: Setting up HomePod is simple through the Home app using VoiceOver and other Accessibility features within iOS. There are also various settings and controls for HomePod that are accessible via the Home app. Type to Siri or Control Center also offer alternative ways to control HomePod. (Useful, for example, for someone who uses Switch Control or is non-verbal).
Knowing how well this works in practice will have to wait until HomePod is released and people have the opportunity to test and experience it in person.
For those who will want or need to use the control panel on the top of HomePod, Apple has provided the following information:
Tap the top of HomePod to play, pause, skip a song, or adjust the volume. Touch and hold the top to talk to Siri.
The specific controls are:
Double-tap: Next Track
Triple-tap: Previous Track
Touch and hold: Siri
Tap or hold plus: Volume Up
Tap or hold minus: Volume Down
HomePod is priced at $349 in the United States, £319 in the United Kingdom, and $499 in Australia.
Apple states that HomePod will arrive in France and Germany this spring, but has not revealed how much the speaker will cost here, or provided release dates for other countries.
Further information about the features and functionality of HomePod are available on apple.com.
For those who enjoy or need to speak to their technology, I am sure this will be a good speaker. However, I have already invested a bit of money in Sonos speakers and think I will be sticking with them. They are, in my opinion, significantly cheaper than the Home Pod purports to be. Sure, there are more expensive models of Sonos speakers out there, but for my purposes, I have all I need. I guess I'm just saying that the Home Pod doesn't offer nearly enough features for me to consider upgrading. To those who get one, I wish you ultimate enjoyment from the speaker.
The echo does the same from amazon and is much better regarding voice. Alexa soundbetter than Siri. I got the new echo with adobe sound and is perfect. Love iPhone but I am not going to pay for something that echo does better.
Of course, I dont' mean that literally! It costs a lot more than the Echo, but does it do a lot less?
I love Apple products generally, so this is not gratuitous Apple-bashing, but I have to wonder about this product. With my Echo, I can play Audible books and also get it to read from the Kindle. If I want it to play Apple Music, I do have to hook it up to my iPad or iPhone but that's no big deal. that's before factoring in Alexa's other skills, which are generally more fun than useful I find but still good for all that. Not surprisingly, HomePod can bring you Apple Music, but there must be a huge questionmark over whether Amazon will allow it to play your titles from Audible or Kindle. To me, that makes this a product not worht investing in.
Also you can do shopping and more. The new apple product can only run your place. You can not shop, Love apple and I had been using iPhone since 4.
I have and love my Sonos S1 and use Alexa with it. the best sound for the price.
I've got an echo too, and I absolutely love it! I love the skills, and I really love reading my Kindle books on it! I play my music from Apple on my ipad via bluetooth too! I also play BARD. books through Echo! All I do is launch BARD's app, connect Alexa to my ipad, hit play, and I can enjoy my audio books! And since I have the remote, I don't even have to leave my bed! If I want to pause audio, I just hit the play/pause button on my remote!
I also love the fact that I can play podcasts on it too! I listen to something every night to help me sleep, and I find Alexa has more sound quality! The ipad has great quality as well, but Alexa is loud enough to block out noises, and for me especially with my dog, who can be quite noisy at night that's important! I love rocking out my my music on my ipad with Alexa, as well as Fandora, Iheart Radio and TuneIn! Plus, I love listeing to the news! I'm with you guys! ALEXA RULES!!
All I have to do it talk to her, and she talks back! I love that there's no screen to look at or interact with. It's all verbal!
Can't wait to make an Apple store run and try the homepod out. I I like my sonos one, but there are a couple things I don't like. Since it doesn't have air play yet, I can't play podcasts, netflix or youtube through it. I set up a trial of amazon music just so I could play music on it with my voice, which is awesome, but I use Apple music and you can't do that. That's the big draw of the homepod for me. Part of why I got the sonos was because the homepod wasn't out for Christmas and it will probably have limitted availability at first, a la the air pods. Who knows, maybe my sonos will go up online later this year if I like the homepod enough. lol
Brian The best thing about your comment is it shows we as blind users have choice in a market where not so long ago it was a case of have what you're given. I hope hwen you choose the HomePod you like it; but just in case anyone doesn't realise how easy Apple Music is with the Echo, once you've paired your iDevice it's merely a matter of saying 'Alexa, connect to my iPad', and you're good to go. I've even found that should you get a call on your Echo, it will reconnect to your iDevice when yyou're done without your having to say anything. My own view is that if you're looking at the HomePod as an Echo replacement because of the Apple music integration, that shouldn't have too much weight as a reason. if you're reading this and wondering whether to get a HomePod or an Echo, the Echo is the better bet if audiobooks and the various other things folks have mentioned on here are important to you.
Yes, choice is a good thing. This being the Internt though, everyone acts like they have to be right. I haven't heard an echo in person outside the dot, although the general consensus seems to be that the quality isn't very good for listening to music, but people use it because of the convenience of Alexa. That's part of why I decided to get a sonos one, because it has Alexa integrated and to me at least it sounds really good for listening to music. The sonos app, while totally accessible, is a little bit limiting though, which is why I can't wait till they add air play. If the homepod is as good as early previews say, I may be seriously tempted. Either that, or at some point I may just get a second sonos one for stereo playback.
Mistake the new echo that it came out last year has great quality sound music. It is better than any speeker. Again I love iPhone and I am not giving apple a hard time but saying echo sound is not good is not correct.
Six months ago when considering which digital assistant to go with, the Home Pod was quickly dropped from consideration because it was twice the price of Amazon's or Google's options without really offering anything compelling to justify the high price. So I guess the Home Pod price is just another example of Apple's products being way over priced. No thanks!
Between Google and Amazon the choice became a no brainer because I'm already well into the Amazon econoverse, so that's the way I went and I haven't regretted the choice one bit. In fact, I bought a second Echo for my bedroom, before the first generation models all disappeared.
When I heard that the second generation Echos were going to be made of plastic instead of the first generation's aluminum, and that they would have fabric skins, which would be harder to keep clean than the first generation's rubberized skin. Plus the second generation being about half the price of the first generation giving the impression that the build quality wouldn't be as good either, I decided that I didn't want a second generation model.
The sound quality is great. The echo 2 is good, great and the sound with playing music is fantastic. I live in an condominium and if I rase the volume up, I can hear it all the way to the hallway.
I have to echo the comments on the echo's sound quality. it's very good indeed. To be fair, I've no doubt the HomePod's sound quality will also be excellent as Apple generally do rather well with audio in my opinion, but it simply doesn't do enough.
I'm really struggling on buying this home pod or going with the Amazon echo. Based on all my reviews, it does seem that the echo is better at this point for doing more things around your home outside the Apple world. I like the sound quality of the HomePod. But, honestly, my fundamental issue is purchasing something from Amazon, a company that has historically and routinely given blind persons lots of trouble related to the accessibility of its products verses supporting Apple, a company that has written the playbook on accessibility of its products. I know all the arguments for and against this position. Why not buy the best product. Apple isn't perfect -- on and on we can go with these arguments. I'm just not sure I want to support Amazon in this way and maybe I'll just wait for the HomePod to improve. This is in no way any sort of comment on anyone who has the Echo. I'm not at all criticizing anyone. This is just my own personal thing. I totally get people buying the best product. For example, I had a Mac but couldn't stick with it and went back to Windows just because of the difficulty of using VoiceOver and the interface on the Mac for someone that has used Windows based screen readers for 20 years so I totally get having non-Apple products. Just struggling with this one.
Sad if you are going to wait, you will wait a long time. Apple is behind amazon regarding smart home and IE. Alexa is better than Siri. The only reason someone will get the new apple is for the sound. However the second generation echo quality sound is great. If you are thinking an amazon get the echo second generation. PS I like apple and will continue to use iPhone in the future. However I know that apple is not doing a great job with siri.
Kareem, couldn't you look at your point of principle the othre way? Is it not just as principled to say: 'you know, this company have been terrible in the past but they now seem to care a whole lot more about accessibility, so in return I will look at their products'? if you rule out Amazon on principle (and indeed if we all rule out companies on principle based on their past record on accessibility), well then there's not much incentive for those companies to change. More importantly, I'm just going through the companies from which I buy things in my head and I'm wondering what I would have left if I took your view? I'd not be able to buy Sky TV, there'd be no way I could use windows as Microsoft were half-hearted about accessibility for a long time, and I'd probably have to throw away my Bosch oven as well. I'm not criticising you for taking a principled stance, but you say you are struglging and I think your struggle can be resolved by turning your principled stance on its head and taking a more positive principled stance which just so happens to enable you to have more choice into the bargain.
On one hand it is really awesome that we as blind people have choices now. On the other hand every choice is far from perfect.
In my home we have the Echo as well as a Google Home speaker. I also use a MacBook Air, an iPhone and a Pixel 2 daily.
Comparing the Voice Assistants alone shows that Siri is honestly horrible. Sorry to say it but sugar coding doesn't help either. When set to English it is just fine. But setting Siri to German, my native language, it is just bad at understanding what I want.
The other Assistants are much better. So much so that I don't even check if Google was correct in picking up what I wanted before sending a message.
Long story short: Apple really has to get going just to catch up.
At the state now honestly I couldn't bring myself to buy the HomePod. Not even for half the price which itself says a lot.
I have to admit to being seriously underwhelmed by my new HomePod so far.
The audio quality seems good for a speaker of this size and type, but not the significant improvement over my current AirPlay speakers that early reviews had led me to expect ... and not on it's own enough to convince me that $349 was a good investment on something which was anticipated would replace one of the speakers in my current setup.
So, now I have to decide whether the ‘smart’ capabilities of the HomePod will tip things in its favor; and make it a keeper.
For now, it's not looking encouraging, as the HomePod is constantly reminding me of how much more Alexa can do on the Echo and Sonos speakers.
Yes, I know, this is only what everything that I had previously read and heard about the HomePod should have had me expecting. I really shouldn't be surprised or disappointed.
Curiosity about a new Apple product just got the better of me and my wallet, I guess.
Thank goodness for Apple's 14 day return policy.
Perhaps the Sonos One will be what I want when it gains the promised AirPlay 2 support.
Or just maybe the HomePod will win me over in the next 14 days.
Hi the home pod sounds good but its a little too pricy for me don't have that kind of cash
i currently have sonos number ones with built in alexa sounds real good
Sonos is build within the new echo 2 generation. I think because I saw my iPhone.
I've been following this for some time and I quite honestly wasn't expecting much to begin with. I have a google home and am considering grabbing an echo dot now it's here in Australia. Combined I am still paying less than a home pod. I've had Spotify for years and have amassed quite a library. From the little I've tried Apple music, I wasn't a huge fan. That may have been due to Siri's rather frequent ability to completely mess up what I'm saying. (If I can't successfully use it on a phone, why the hell would I pay 500 bucks to use it on a speaker?)
I will admit that I've probably been pretty bashy about apple's choices over the past few months, and I'm obviously not about to think wrong of you if you decide to get one of these. It just amazes me that I can do so much more for so much less.
For anyone wanting a pretty detailed review of the home pod...
I got an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas and I absolutely love it, especially how I can do everything with just my voice. Plus, the skills are amazing, especially the games! I would love to see the HomePod in action, at an Apple Store, but no matter what, I think I’ll keep my Dot. Alexa is awesome! Whoops, she just said, “thanks so much.“ From what I’ve been reading on this thread and watching YouTube videos, the HomePod seems to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, my favorite part is Siri saying, “you can’t see me, but I’m waving!“ Could someone please do a podcast on it on the site, it would be wonderful to see the HomePod an action from a blind person‘s perspective. Thank you so much in advance!
Without advertising, Sonos is offering a limited time sale for two Sonos One speakers with Alexa enabled, for those who enjoy talking to technology, for $349. Same price as for one HomePd with the added ability you can have it in two rooms.
The HomePod is not really in competition with the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The HomePod is going to sound markedly better than either the Amazon or Google speakers. The HomePod's closest competition would probably be the Sonos1. Here's a very good article comparing these speakers.
Note that right now, you cannot even configure a pair of HomePod speakers for stereo play. Whereas, you can pair 2 Sonos1 speakers as a stereo pair and you can purchase a pair of Sonos1 speakers for the same price as a single HomePod.
I have a pair of Sonos Play:1 speakers configured for stereo and they sound amazing -- far better than my Amazon Echo. Moreover, I can control my Sonos speakers using my Echo Dot. Personally, I'm not even tempted by the HomePod. I don't even feel the need to purchase a pair of Sonos1 speakers at this time, although that's what I'd do before I'd spend the money on a HomePod.
I went to a workshop at the Apple store the other day. OK... so I just used that as an excuse to go play with the omepod. I am tempted since I primarily use apple music. I found the touch controls on the top to be really sensative, although the specialists weren't able to turn on VO for me. Yes, that makes the taps extra convoluted, but at least the option is there. During my limitted play time, I had a heck of a time getting Siri to play what I wanted sometimes, but then again the same thing happens with Alexa sometimes too. I do like that Siri can hear you when you speak softer thofgh. I'm finding that I have to yell at my sonos to get Alexa to hear me sometimes and it's annoying. I'm not yet sure if the trade offs would be worth it right now to ditch my sonos. On the one hand, the homepod does sound better and has air play, which sonos really needs. I dearly miss being able to play podcasts and YouTube videos on a good speaker while my phone charges. On the other hand though, I've found some of the Alexa skills really useful, and that's not even counting the games. Also, the sonos play5 is in it's second gen, and the one is kind of like a play1 gen 2. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Sonos 3 in a few months with all the features the one has, but with better sound. That could, at least to some people, ut it closer to the homepod. Just my $.02 at least right now.
How can the HomePod not be in competition with the Google Home and Alexa? It’s like saying a new Toyota can't be compared to a Ford. Siri just is not the best virtual assistant out there. Google and Alexa can do so much more than Siri can! It’s like Apple isn't even trying. Perhaps with the HomePod Siri will improve I can only hope. I love my Google Home and for being more than just a music speaker it sure can connect to more music services than the new HomePod can. I find that sad since the HomePod's real point is it is a smart music speaker. I just can't see this taking off in the same way.
For its size I think the sound of the HomePod is amazing. The microphones can pick up my voice almost anywhere in my house. Even when the music is playing at a high volume I can ask Siri to turn it down and she will hear me. I primarily use Apple Music but I have also used Spotify through airplay. Since I do not have any other wireless speaker or headphones, I now need to decide whether I can justify the price of this HomePod. I did not expect this speaker to be a personal assistant. Maybe I will consider getting an echo to do that. So many decisions to make. Thank goodness I have 14 days to try out this HomePod. Here is a link to another podcast on the HomePod that may be helpful. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/audio-pizza-more-than-just-sound-bite-reviews-tutorials/id544075194?mt=2&i=1000401987602
You're gonna have good and bad with any system. For instance, alexa sometimes just, sucks when you want her to do something. I'm not willing to shell out 129 for the google home, nor the 399 for the Max at this point, I'll wait to see if they drop in price, the home especially. I did hear David's podcast, he did a wonderful job. Having said all of this, siri is aging fast. According to a Mac rumors article, I read that Apple is focusing now on a two year IOS release cycle, instead of "jam packed" yearly events. If this means it takes Siri from essentially infancy to at least a school age assistant? I'll be happy. I don't use Apple music or spotify, I only have music on my phone. The Home pod is not an acquisition I'll be making. And if Apple wants the stereo mode to take off, it'd better wonder if people are gonna shell out another four hundred for the second one. Then again, they thought the grand for the Iphone X was an awesome idea.
I see people trying to argue the echo dot is better than the homepod and that is just crazy. Alexa I agree is better than Siri in every way. That being said the speaker quality of the echo's is not the best. Like someone said Sonos blows the echo away. The apple Homepod while not stereo at this point does I hear give the best illusion of a stereo speaker set to date. Basically the reviews I read are saying this is more like the play 5 than a play 1. Yes while Sonos is marketing you can get 2 play 1's for the same price I'm not sure this is a great deal. I think Sonos has a great set up, but lack of airplay or bluetooth are limiting factors for me. I also hate how people think Alexa can't hear you because they use Sonos speakers and this must be true for every other speaker. In fact this is far from true reviews all point to Sonos using crappy microphones on there speakers which is why for example the echo gives you way better results in this department.
For the person saying they don't understand how they aren't competing against each other I'd say this Alexa is useful while Siri is sort of there. That being said my Echo is great to listen to and is great background music, but if I want to hear my music in the best detail the echo nor the home can achieve this. Finally though sound is subjective so if the echo or home does it for you than the Homepod just isn't for you move on. I don't know why as a blind community we complain so much about price and what it does. We did the same thing when Airpods came out. If you don't like the product move on buy something else or nothing it's your choice, but those who enjoy that product can be happy about it and I think Apple did make something compelling from the music standpoint.
I have a pair of first gen Echos and find them perfectly reasonable for bedtime or general listening. I am an Apple music subscriber but I do have Amazon unlimited for the echos because I find Alexa's ability to understand me is much better.
It's the integration that makes Amazon's offerings better - they've won the voice wars in my view because their platform's fully open. The Homepod might have good audio quality but It's a price vs value proposition issue. Why am I going to spend £319 when I can have a pair of echos for lite listening and other skill integrations. It's a different world we live in now - most music is compressed to hell or streamed anyway... I see the homepod flopping very quickly after the fantards waste money on it., Happy to be proven wrong but general consumers will look at the price, see that Siri is as pathetic as it's ever been and walk away with a Sonos, a Google Home or some echos. Just my two cents as Americans say.
Check the blind side podcast with Jonathon M and David W about the homepad. Like they stated is primary speeker and second AI. Unlike Echo wich is primary AI and second speeker. Like I stated before, I like apple and will continue to use iPhone but I am also not blind about apple issues with Siri. Siri is not a good AI.
Hi @joe, just so it's clear, I wasn't picking a fight with you or anything. If someone wants the Homepod, all for them. Just, not for me. If Siri gets her training wheels off, and learns to be a big girl, well then, that's another reason to look at it. As it is, those who wantit, I'm happy for them. Me, nope. ;)
One thing that hasn't yet been touched on is the refresh cycle of such speakers. Being intelligent means that they will evolve through software but there will be a point at which the hardware becomes out dated and you have to upgrade. I hate this wasteful aspect of society but that's another thing ...
My friend pointed out to me, speakers, as in the actual speaker within the device, reached their hight about 30 years ago and haven't improved since. I did have two Sons play 5's 2nd gen, but the app was terrible and they really kinda sucked in terms of connectivity ... So I sold them and bought a surround system with some excellent speakers that will last me for years. The main amp, I realise, will become out dated at some point, but instead of having to upgrade a pair of smart speakers all at once, I can upgrade in a modular way far easier.
Smart speakers work for kitchens, bedrooms, but if you're a real audiophile you're going to want floor standers. The HomePod is not a perfect representation of what the artist and producers wanted you to hear, it's just a way of making all music sound subjectively better, or at least using intelligent profiling of the sound.
I just use airplay and my amp now, knowing I'll have good sound but also retains control during parties etc. A bunch of people yelling at a personal assistant sucks...
I think, the HomePod is designed as super convenient access to your Apple Music subscription and nothing more. No one else does, or can offer that with apples closed garden approach.
In my previous post, I had said how much I liked the Echo, that has changed, problems with Alexa and its often terrible voice interpretation that Amazon was simply ignoring rather than fixing made me reconsider my position on the Echo and I decided that enough was enough. If Amazon isn't inclined to fix Alexa's existing problems, instead of just white washing them over with new features, I'll go somewhere else.
So I abandoned Alexa and the Echos in favor of Google Home and am quite happy with the decision.
The first thing I noticed is that, while Google Home can't do as much as Alexa can, Google Home's voice interpretation is far better than Alexa's. While Alexa was frequently not doing what I had asked, with Google Home those occurances are rare.
I also like the way Google Home responds, its responses are bright and mor cheerful than Alexa's rather dry, matter of fact responses. It's always nice to hear a cheerful voice, and Google Home's is definitely that.
I've also noticed that Google Home responds almost instantly while there was always a short pause of several seconds with Alexa which I assumed were for processing my request.
While you can use Pandora or Spotify with both of these smart speakers, I decided to use Amazon music with Alexa and Google Play music with Google Home. Amazon has a music service called Music Unlimited, with a name like that you'd think it included their entire library, it doesn't, I was always running into music that wasn't in Music Unlimited so it actually seemed rather limited to me. But with Google Play music, I have yet to find some track or album that they didn't have unless it was really obsquere, like the Bejeweled 2 Delux soundtrack. Something else I've noticed, and this goes to voice interpretation, when I'd ask Alexa to play some track or album, frequently I'd get something I didn't ask for and had to try again, but when I ask Google Home, it plays what I asked for, unless I screwed up what I called the album or track, but that's on me, not Google Home.
Sonce I always have music playing in the background, usually soft classical or instrumental, this time I decided that I didn't want to skimp on speaker quality so I bought the Google Home Max and got a bonus of a free Google Home Mini with it.
Sorry Apple, but as other's have already said, As AI technology goes, Siri is anchient news, and has a pretty dry and matter of fact response. I actually got to the point that I turned off Siri on my iPhone and don't miss it a bit.
Interesting that you are having problems. No issues with my Alexa. I am using the echo second generation.
We have both a google home mini, and an alexa enabled Sonos1. I also have a stereo pair of sonos play fives and subwoofer in the livingroom. While I don't deny the home pod sounds better than the sonos 1, I'd challenge anybody to even compare the home pod to the rich, emercive experience of the play fives and sub. I love apple products, but I can't imagine paying that price for sound alone. Perhaps apple will expand the home pod to include all the cool things that google and alexa have.