If you felt waiting for the iPhone X to start shipping on November 3 after a September 12 announcement was hard, then you either forgot about Apple’s HomePod or were never interested in the smart speaker to begin with.

Unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference way back in June, the high-end Amazon Echo “killer” was initially supposed to launch commercially before 2017 concluded. But Cupertino may have chosen to collect a little extra inventory following early production trouble, even though that saw the Google Home Max beat its primary rival to the market.

At long last, we have an official release date for Siri fanatics, with pre-orders underway this Friday, January 26 in the US, UK and Australia ahead of a February 9 arrival in Apple Stores and at select Apple Authorized Resellers.

Priced at $349 stateside, the HomePod will expand to France and Germany sometime “this spring”, focusing on the delivery of “stunning audio quality” as a key global selling point.

Apple Music integration is obviously pushed hard, alongside “home assistance”, as the HomePod is capable of sending messages, setting timers and reminders, checking the weather, playing shows on Apple Podcasts and controlling “hundreds of home accessories” in addition to streaming your tunes.

Unfortunately, multi-room audio support is not available at launch, coming instead “this year in a free software update”, and technically offering Amazon and Google the upper hand from a fairly important standpoint.

Then again, the Apple HomePod is a pretty special piece of super-advanced hardware, comprising a “high-excursion” woofer, seven tweeters and an A8 chip, coming together to deliver real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, echo cancellation and “more.”

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