Apple HomePod to hit stores February 9

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Also a challenge for Apple will be the HomePod's price, which at $349 is significantly more than the $100 Amazon Echo and $129 Google Home.

Apple hopes to set HomePod apart from its competitors by emphasizing sound quality. Using spatial awareness to sense its location in the room, it automatically adjusts the audio to sound great wherever it is placed.

Another unknown is whether the HomePod will work with music streaming services other than Apple Music. That means Siri will probably clam up if you ask her to "play Rap Caviar really loud". Available in white and space grey, the speaker stands at under 18 centimetres tall and has been created to fit anywhere in the home. 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, handsome design that is so much fun to use.

One standout piece of news in today's announcement is that the HomePod's multi-room audio capabilities won't be available at launch, but instead will come later through a software update. With an array of six microphones, HomePod can hear "Hey Siri" from across the room, even when loud music is playing.

Apple will start taking orders for the HomePod from 26 January in the US, UK and Australia, and the first models will reach stores on 09 February.

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The HomePod stands 18 centimetres tall, and incorporates Apple's A8 chip to deliver a "wide spacious soundstage".

A waveform icon appears on the top of the device to indicate that Siri is engaged, which compliments integrated touch controls on the device. You'll know Siri is listening by the LED waveform that animates with your every word.

The company rarely says much about the whats and whys of a bug, but it mentions in the security notes that it stemmed from the way links received in text messages are processed and presented. Setting reminders and timers were also always destined to be table stakes, just like fetching news, weather, or traffic information.

It is compatible with iPhone 5s and later models, running iOS 11 and will be competing with Google Home and Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo.

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