It’s go time. You can now preorder the Apple HomePod. (Here’s how to do it.) The company’s inaugural smart speaker will hit store shelves on Feb. 9 in the US, UK and Australia. The release will conclude the HomePod’s tumultuous prologue, which started with rumors of a standalone Siri-powered speaker in 2016. In 2017, Apple confirmed its existence at its Worldwide Developers Conference – just weeks before the “firmware leak” that disclosed previously unknown details about the device (as well as iOS 11, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X). Originally scheduled to debut in time for the 2017 holidays, the company officially delayed the HomePod launch until “early 2018,” citing a need for “more time.” Time has passed, and in the interim, Amazon, Google and others have solidified their places in the growing smart speaker market. The Google Home Mini and Amazon Dot, discounted to $30, were everywhere during 2017’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale. Apple will enter this increasingly competitive market with considerable headwinds. Even before it hits stores, we have some idea of how the HomePod will stack up, at least on paper, against the other players in the market. Of course, we’ll need to get our hands on the HomePod before drawing any conclusions, but here’s an… Read full this story
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