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The Apple HomePod is available to pre-order this Friday

Thursday, January 25th 2018 by Oprah Flash

Last year there was a lot of excitement surrounding smart speakers with built-in personal assistants, specifically the Google Home and Amazon’s Echo range. This year Apple is joining in and will launch its own version in the form of the Apple HomePod.

The HomePod will go on sale in the UK from Friday 9 February for £319 but you can start pre-ordering tomorrow (26 January).

As well as ordering the device directly from Apple, you’ll also be able to find it on the shelves of Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis, Very, Littlewoods and EE.

Apple promises the smart home device will deliver, “stunning audio quality wherever it’s placed”. Initially, it doesn’t look as stylish as the smart home devices that both Google and Amazon currently offer but it is just 7-inches tall so you could put it in any room around the house without affecting the decor.

If you have an iPhone, iPad or Macbook you may already be used to having a chat with Siri or asking her the weather. Well, you’ll be able to do the same thing with the HomePod.

Ask Siri to make you a playlist

Just say “hey Siri” and you’re ready to start playing music, send messages or get a news and traffic update. The HomePod works best if you already have an Apple Music subscription but will also stream the music from your iTunes library.

Here is where the device might lose a few fans. In terms of offering a new concept, it’s a bit late to the party. Google and Amazon have had a head start in which they both developed a more varied range of smart speakers with personal assistants.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see that the spec suggests the HomePod is only compatible with other Apple products and software. This leaves you pretty limited if you don’t already have an iPhone, iPad or some form of Apple device. At least with the Google Home range you can play music from various sources including Spotify and TuneIn.

The HomePod is powered by Apple’s A8 chip and uses some fancy tech to allow the device to carry out real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam-forming and echo cancellation. Using spatial awareness to sense its location, it automatically adjusts the audio so it will sound the same no matter where you place it around the room.

Inside the small device there are six microphones so the HomePod will hear you from across the room even when your sister is singing along at the top of her lungs to Dua Lipa.

Turn up the heat just with your voice

Last week we told you about Amazon’s release of the Echo Spot for £119.99. It’s smaller than the HomePod, has four microphones rather than six but other than that the two devices pretty much allow you to carry out the same tasks.

The HomePod is not just for music lovers, it can also come in handy for controlling your smart devices. If you’ve got smart gadgets all around your home that are HomeKit enabled to be controlled by Siri, you can switch off the lights, turn up the heating and a range of other tasks all with a simple command.

It’s relatively easy to set the HomePod up, just hold your iPhone next to it and it will be ready to start playing music in a matter of seconds. The Siri waveform will appear on the top to show you when Siri is awake and there’s integrated touch controls for easy navigation.

So far it looks like the HomePod is pricier than its competitors and pretty much does the same thing as the smart speakers you probably already have at home. Is it worth it? If you’re an avid Apple user than maybe, but definitely not the best way to spend your money if you’re not.

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