The Apple HomePod was supposed to go on sale last month at the height of the holiday season, but Apple pushed back its release date to early 2018. "We think they will be blown away by the audio quality", Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, Philip Schiller, said in a blog post. The voice-controlled HomePod had been planned for 2017, but was delayed before Christmas. For those heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, this is the be-all-end-all of smart speakers. Right now, however, asking Siri to read you the news only results in a fixed list of headlines and links copied from Apple's News app. Also, there's no exact date for this software update, and as Apple failed to deliver on its original mid-December release date for the HomePod, it's hard to be confident that this update will arrive that soon. If you're in the US, UK, or Australia, you'll be able to say "Hey Siri, play the news", to get a summary of the current headlines. It will start taking pre-orders from January 26. Additionally, you can now ask for specific news categories such as Sports, Business or Music.
HomePod - is it better than rivals?
In Apple's case, multi-room audio uses Apple's AirPlay 2 protocol, which provides an easy way to make the same music play in various room of a house or office.
Apple is arriving late to a market dominated by Amazon's Alexa-powered devices and to a lesser degree Google Home, which includes voice-activated devices that can answer questions and be a smart home hub. Unlike competing manufacturers, Apple's HomePod aims to compete directly with Sonos' high-end wireless speaker offerings. If two devices are placed in the room, HomePod will detect the other and sound will be balanced for a stereo-quality experience.
The speaker also shows off Apple's cross-device compatibility with accessories like iPhones and AirPods, a major selling point of its sticky ecosystem.