Whenever Apple launches a brand new product, it's guaranteed to be popular and shift millions of units. Which is why Amazon and Google were probably smiling in December when Apple's HomePod smart speaker missed its launch date and got delayed to early 2018. Missing the holidays was a blow for Apple, but the HomePod launch now looks imminent as FCC approval has been granted.
As AppleInsider reports, the HomePod will be identified as model "A1639," but any details beyond that will remain hidden in FCC documents until their public release on July 17. That's sure to be long after Apple actually launches its smart speaker.
Further evidence of the launch happening soon came last week when the Taipei Times reported that Inventec, one of two companies handling HomePod production for Apple, had shipped about a million units. That likely won't be enough to cover launch demand, but then Apple's other supplier, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. will also need to start shipping stock soon.
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Meanwhile, MacRumors reports that iOS 11.2.5 contains hidden images in Apple's Home app suggesting Siri can be muted on the HomePod. The images were discovered by Filipe Esposito and suggest Apple will allow you to create "scenes" including one that disables Siri. He suggests this will be very useful for parties, where you want a HomePod to function, but not be available for your guests requests.
At $349, the HomePod certainly isn't cheap, but then we wouldn't expect anything else from Apple. The key selling point is audio quality, which promises to be much higher than that offered by the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. At its heart is an Apple A8 chip, which controls the included seven tweeters, a four-inch woofer, and six microphones used to gauge the acoustics of a room and adjust the audio to suit.
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