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25 January, 2018

HomePod, the innovative wireless speaker from Apple, arrives in stores beginning Friday, February 9 and is available to order online this Friday, January 26 in the US, UK and Australia.

The $349 speaker, a competitor to Google Inc.'s Home and Inc.'s Echo, was announced at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June with a promised delivery date of December.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.Brendan McDermid/ReutersApple issued a press release for its forthcoming HomePod smart speaker on Tuesday (first reported on by AppleInsider), in which it revealed an interesting detail about Siri. Apple says the HomePod will work with devices running iOS 11.2.5 or later, ruling out the iPhone 5 or older devices. While Apple certainly has legions of loyal fans around the globe, many of them have probably already hopped on the voice-assisted speaker bandwagon with a device powered by Amazon or Google.

Through Siri, you can ask the HomePod to send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check the latest in news, traffic, sports and weather.

The device will sell for United States dollars 349 in a choice of white or space grey. In case you are not aware, the stereo sound feature gets triggered when one HomePod in a room detects another one in the same room. Both can then be connected with AirPlay 2 and play the same song.

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CNBC's announcement offers some early hope for Apple enthusiasts that the HomePod could quickly gain new apps now that the device is about to hit store shelves.

HomePod is created to work with an Apple Music subscription for access to hundreds of genres, moods and activities. On the audio front, Apple promises 360-degree sound quality, with a woofer for bass plus seven tweeters for higher frequencies.

Can HomePod be the best smart speaker? It was late to market, faced established companies that had a huge head start, cost more than the competition and was locked in to Apple's music offerings. But since then, Alexa and Google Assistant have taken the lead in capabilities - especially in the kind of integration that makes a smart speaker useful as a smart home hub.

To differentiate itself from the other smart speakers, Apple also promises to deliver excellent audio quality. Apple's A8 CPU powers the device. Expect HomePod to be priced near $500 CAD or so when it launches in Canada, hopefully sometime in 2018 if we're lucky.

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