Apple officially releases iOS 11.2.5 to Public - What's new?

by Linda Olson January 25, 2018, 0:49
Apple officially releases iOS 11.2.5 to Public - What's new?

Apple said today it will start taking online orders for its HomePod smart speaker on Friday in the UK, US and Australia; just over a month later than initially planned.

Apple's exceptionally long-awaited Siri-powered "smart speaker", the Apple HomePod, will be available for pre-order from Friday.

Apple says that both the white and space gray color options will be available from Apple's online store and select Authorized Resellers like Best Buy in the U.S.; Argos, Dixons Carphone, john Lewis, Shop Direct and EE in the United Kingdom; and The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, HB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra in Australia.

The HomePod was originally meant to ship in December, in time for the holidays, but "we need a little more time", an Apple spokesperson told our sister site CNET at the time.

The company claims that its digital assistant, which is at the heart of the HomePod's smart functionalities, is now used by a whopping 500 million users.

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HomePod's price tag may also deter some customers: It costs $349, compared to $180 for Amazon Echo and $129 for Google Home. Instead, Apple will roll out support for multi-room audio sometime this year with a new update, letting users control the different HomePods in their house. However, in the time since Apple's announcement, both Amazon and Google have released their own premium smart speakers with high quality audio, which puts Apple in the awkward position of having to play catch-up.

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The HomePod comes with a $349 United States dollars price tag and is available in white and grey.

"HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. However, recent approval from the United States telecoms regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), should bring it a step closer to release, expected Q1 2018, in the US, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Apart from that, other Siri features like weather, messages etc will also work on HomePod without a subscription. Expect HomePod to be priced near $500 CAD or so when it launches in Canada, hopefully sometime in 2018 if we're lucky. And video streaming giant Roku Inc (NASDAQ:ROKU) made moves toward entering the smart speaker market. It might be possible that voice-activated commands may not be supported, rather you may be able to connect your Apple device to the HomePod and play music that way.

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