You can finally pre-order Apple's $349 HomePod smart speaker

HomePod

The HomePod brags about a huge variety of features.

They also had the opportunity to better explain how HomePod would work with various Apple products including Apple TV, which would have been a win-win for the company as well as owners who've been wondering, "what makes my Apple TV better than the others?" Of course, the HomePod came out on top, though Google and Sonos made it a much closer fight than you might think for an Apple demo. Unfortunately, there's no indicator on the HomePod to see at a glance if the mic is on or off. However, Apple said that there may be a firmware update for the HomePods later this year and theses features may be added.

Finally, Ed Sheeran's Shape Of You is also much better than what has come before with loads of attack - but this tune relies heavily on the high frequencies, so perhaps it's no surprise it sounds so good on the HomePod. The Google Home Max also has a similar feature where it automatically optimises the sound based on where it is kept in a room.

Express.co.uk was lucky enough to hear the HomePod a year ago and there's no doubting that its sound credentials are impressive.

If you don't feel like preordering a HomePod, you will be able to pick one up at an Apple retail store starting February 9. So plenty of options available in the smart speaker sphere. Bass-heads will have to wait for the Beats version of the HomePod, I guess. And now other companies are jumping into the market, most notably Apple, which just for its HomePod on Friday.

One HomePod with Siri or two Sonos Ones with Alexa?

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Sonos are offering 2 Sonos One speakers for $398 / £349 so that you can instantly make the most of their internet connected speakers. In my listening party, songs like Ed Sheeran's Shape of You picked apart the track, letting me hear both Sheeran's guitar picking and the clarity of his voice.

First announced at Apple's developer conference in June 2017, the new Siri-equipped speaker takes on the Amazon Echo and Google Home in the race to be the smart home speaker of choice. That means the HomePod can move some serious air, playing louder and clearer than you'd expect the 7-inch-tall speaker to be able to. Instead, you'll have to use your phone. What this does is ensure you can use certain Apple services - chiefly Messages, Calendar, and Reminders - with the HomePod.

The final piece of the HomePod puzzle is its smart home functionality. The Google Home is priced at US$129 while the Amazon Echo costs US$ 99. We also send freebies and lots of other goodies exclusively to our email subscribers. With a price tag of $349, it sure seems expensive, especially compared to the budget-friendly Google Home Mini and Echo Dot. This probably isn't something too many people will care about, but Alexa and Google Assistant's voice sound more natural in comparison.

Alternatively, you can preorder the Apple HomePod at BestBuy.

Some people only go for Apple when it comes to technology.

So now the battle begins as the market decides what it wants more in a smart speaker device. Apple Music costs $9.99, but customers can get a three-month free trial.

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