The new Apple HomePod smart speaker will go on sale on February 9. Picture: AFP/Josh Edelson
The new Apple HomePod smart speaker will go on sale on February 9. Picture: AFP/Josh Edelson

Apple’s smart speaker to hit Australian stores

AUSTRALIA will be one of just three countries to receive Apple's first smart speaker when it launches next month after the tech giant made a surprise announcement overnight.

The Apple HomePod, an internet-connected speaker featuring voice assistant Siri, will go on sale this Saturday in Australia, with pre-orders arriving and speakers appearing in stores on February 9.

A new Apple HomePod smart speaker is surrounded by members of the media during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last year. Picture: AFP/Josh Edelson
A new Apple HomePod smart speaker is surrounded by members of the media during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last year. Picture: AFP/Josh Edelson

The $499 device had originally been due to launch in December.

Though Apple's savvy speaker will compete with artificially intelligent devices from Google and Amazon that answer questions and even order groceries, Apple worldwide marketing senior vice-president Phil Schiller emphasised the HomePod's audio capabilities, calling it "a magical new music experience".

"We're so excited for people to get HomePod into their homes, apartments and businesses to hear it for themselves," he said. "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.'"

The HomePod uses a woofer, seven tweeters, six microphones, an Apple A8 chip, and automatic spatial awareness to play music and respond to commands, and, unlike Google's Home speakers, will work with the Apple Music subscription service.

There's no word on whether it will work with other services, though, such as Spotify.

Apple CEO Tim Cook launched the company’s new smart speaker at its annual conference in June 2017. Picture: Supplied
Apple CEO Tim Cook launched the company’s new smart speaker at its annual conference in June 2017. Picture: Supplied

Apple's speakers will also play podcasts, news from Australian broadcasters including Channel 7 and Fox Sports, and control some smart home products, such as connected lights.

Apple has some catching up to do in the smart speaker space, however, with Google revealing sales of its Home speakers almost tripled in Australia during December, and Amazon's Echo speakers a clear sales leader in the US and due to launch in Australia in early February.

Apple is behind Google and Amazon in the home smart speaker space. Picture: AFP/Josh Edelson
Apple is behind Google and Amazon in the home smart speaker space. Picture: AFP/Josh Edelson


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