Apple starts selling its HomePod speaker this weekend

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The iOS update also brings support that is scheduled for February 9.

HomePod will retail for $349.

Trip Miller, managing partner at Gullane Capital and an Apple investor, said he's concerned that Apple has focused the HomePod too narrowly on playing music with high quality sound.

But despite being a musical device first, HomePod is also a fully fledged smart speaker.

Apple first announced the HomePod last summer, and had originally planned to release it before the end of 2017. With the news that the Federal Communications Commission approved its distribution, a release date was imminent. Apple has incorporated aesthetically pleasing upward-facing woofer, paired with the custom A8 chip, that enables bass management through real-time software modelling. Should more than one HomePod device be in the same room, Apple states they can be set up as a stereo pair for further enhanced experience.

Like its competitors the HomePod is able to use artificial intelligence and voice recognition, through the Siri platform, to answer people's questions.

SiriKit will help the HomePod to support third-party messaging apps, permitting users to ask Siri to send a message to any desired contact, like a friend or a family member, using apps such as WhatsApp.

Speaking at WWDC a year ago, Cook said "I think when people listen to it, they are going to be shocked over the quality of the sound, and of course it does a lot of other things".

Apple's long-awaited entry into the voice-assistant speaker market is finally approaching, but can it compete with Amazon and Google? Besides music, Siri will be able to send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check the news, sports, traffic, and weather, and also control HomeKit smart home accessories. That said, it looks like Siri's implementation in the HomePod will be much more limited than what Google Assistant in the Home and Alexa in the Amazon Echo, are capable of doing.

Apple had meant to release the HomePod last month during the holiday shopping season but delayed its debut to refine the product.

Meanwhile, iOS 11.2.5 also includes Siri News support, even if you don't intend to get a HomePod.

Later this year, a software update will let users play music throughout the house with multi-room audio. HomePod was initially scheduled to ship in December, and Apple has now announced that the device will ship on February 9, with pre-orders beginning this Friday.