Apple HomePod first look

Apple HomePod is the smart speaker that wants to be at the center of your home audio experience, and that's great news for iPhone and iPad users.

We got a chance to see the HomePod immediately after Apple's WWDC keynote in San Jose, but we weren't allowed to touch it. 

In fact, we couldn't even touch the pristine white table it sat on, and trying to activate it with 'Hey, Siri' didn't work either. We tried … many times.

But we did get a good sense of the HomePod speaker size, how it'll light up and if it'll be good enough to take on Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Apple HomePod price and release date

Apple made the argument that the HomePod speaker combines the best of the new speaker idea out there. It's both a smart speaker and powerful source of music.

For that reason, Apple made the point that the price of both of these items would normally be more expensive than the HomePod price. In fact, Apple is suggesting you're getting a big discount. So nice, right?

How much will it cost? You'll be paying $349 for the new Apple speaker, but you won't be able to buy it right away. The release date is December 2017 in the US, UK and Australia, which means it'll likely be here just right before Christmas – and it'll very likely be sold out everywhere. In that way, it's like a very big AirPod.

HomePod size and features

HomePod has been designed to be a 7-inch with a 4-inch upward-facing woofer that Apple promises will rock almost any room with distortion-free audio. It helps that this thing has 7 beam-forming tweeters in its base.

We were able to extend our index finger and thumb and almost span the entire speaker, which, according to the HomePod specs, is just under seven inches tall. That makes it a bit taller than the portly Google Home, and slightly shorter than canister-shaped Amazon Echo.

But it's more than just a loud wireless speaker. Apple has Siri baked into it, which explains why everyone was calling it the Apple Siri Speaker ahead of today's launch event. That means it will be able to answer inquiries like the Home and Echo, and also access Apple Music's 4 million song catalogue with a simple voice command.

The top includes colorful lights, in the vein of Siri on the iPhone, and Apple's intelligent voice assistant will respond your commands. Given the fact that iOS 11 makes Siri even speaker, we should see this rival the Google Home speaker.

The HomePod will be powerful on the inside, too, with a custom A8 chip, just like on an iPhone. The A8 means the HomePod will be able to better predict when it hears its name and be able to perform real-time acoustic modeling that will shape the sound to fit the room it's in.

It'll also have bass management through real-time software modeling that ensures the speaker delivers the deepest and cleanest bass possible, with low distortion, according to Apple.

Apple also says it'll be easy to pair with your Apple devices, just like it is with the Apple AirPods due to the W1 chip and support multi-room audio – a feature we greatly appreciated in this year's Beats headphones line-up.

HomePod colors and design

HomePod will come in two colors at launch: white and space gray. Apple had them both side-by-side on a white table:

While there's a chance Apple could reveal more colors for the HomePod between now and December, nothing was said to imply that.

It'd be nice to see Apple come out with additional colors – or at least some way to personalize the speaker – considering that the Home has interchangeable bases that give it a nice visual flair. If that doesn't happen before the speaker launches later this year, however, the two colors Apple has picked are at least subtle and non-offending. 

There's still a lot left to explore about the Apple HomePod smart speaker. The company clearly wants to take on Google Home and Amazon Echo, and it's aiming to be the best iPhone and iPad connected speaker around.

We'll update our first look we check out the HomePod more.

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