News January 23, 2018

Australia among first to get Apple HomePod, Feb 9 confirmed as launch date

Australia among first to get Apple HomePod, Feb 9 confirmed as launch date

Apple has confirmed that its HomePod smart speaker will be released in Australia on February 9.

We’re one of the first three territories to get the voice activated device which promises “stunning audio quality wherever it’s placed”, alongside the US and the UK.

The $499 device which stands at 7-inches, goes on pre-order from this Saturday (January 27) through the Apple Store, before being available at The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra.

Research suggests that about 16% of Australians have expressed their desire to buy a smart speaker, and around 5% already have.

But they hold concerns about privacy, about being listened to when they’re not aware of it.

Philip Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, said: “HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple.

“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, beautiful design that is so much fun to use.

“We’re so excited for people to get HomePod into their homes, apartments and businesses to hear it for themselves.

“We think they will be blown away by the audio quality.

“The team has worked to give Siri a deeper knowledge of music so that you can ask to play virtually anything from your personal favourites to the latest chart-topping releases, simply by saying ‘Hey Siri.’”

HomePod works in conjunction with an Apple Music subscription, which 30 million have around the world.

The voice control Siri which is already used in half a billion devices, allows users to access a catalogue of 45 million songs and their entire iTunes library, for online or offline listening.

It sees Apple taking the battle to market leader Amazon and Alexa, and Google Home’s Google Assistant.

Last month it acquitted song identifying service Shazam for US$400 million as part of its HomePod experience.

The speaker can also be used to send messages, play podcasts and check news, sport, traffic and weather.

Other features include “real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam-forming, echo cancellation”, the ability to sense where it is placed in a room and adjust settings, and seven “beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with directional control.”

Later this year, Apple will have a software update to enable multi-room customization if a user has more than one HomePod around the house.

HomePod’s arrival in Australia coincides with Amazon’s Echo devices, which it announced last week, and also set for early February.

The standard Echo is priced locally at $149, Echo Plus at $229 and Dot at $79.

Amazon is stripping the price by $30 as an introductory offer.

Along with the devices will come its subscription music service, Amazon Music Unlimited, starting from $4.99 a month for use with one Echo speaker.

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