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Apple Delays HomePod Speaker Until Early 2018

Apple’s HomePod speaker won’t be shipping in time for the holiday season. The company is delaying the commercial availability of the device until next year, it announced Friday morning. “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers,” the company said in a statement. “We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”

Apple first announced HomePod at its worldwide developer conference in June, and at the time said that it would ship it by December in the US, UK and Australia, with plans to bring it to additional markets next year. At the time, the company announced a retail price of $349.

HomePod will come with a Siri integration for voice control, and the device is supposed to automatically adjust to the sonic quality of the room it is placed in. The company has yet to explain key details of the HomePod’s functionality to consumers, but documents shared with developers last month suggest that some of its core functionality will be limited to Apple services.

For instance, consumers will be able to request songs and playlists from Apple Music, but third-party support for voice commands is limited to a small number of app categories that could leave Spotify and others in the cold. What’s more, third-party developers will have to run their apps on a nearby iPhone or iPad, and simply use the HomePod as a fancy microphone.

That’s very different from the way other smart speakers integrate with third-party services. Both the Amazon Echo and the Google Home allow developers to directly access voice services from their devices, and both also integrate with a long list of music services, with the notable exception of Apple Music.

Apple touted the HomePod’s superior audio quality when it first announced the product in June, but competitors have been catching up on that front as well. Google introduced a audio-centric Google Home Max in October, which is supposed to ship next month. And Sonos, long known for being a favorite with music lovers, started selling its own voice-controlled speaker in October.

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