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Apple HomePod pre-orders open, shipping on 9 February for £319

Apple has spoken proudly of its ability to create a spacious soundstage, filling the room using echo cancellation and acoustic modelling technology to adapt the sound to the space it's filling, sensing whether it's in the middle of a room or up against a wall.

HomePod when integrated with HomeKit enabled devices can also be used to turn on lights, adjust the thermostat, unlock doors or raise window shades.

Squeezed into that small body, a custom subwoofer is joined by an array of seven beam-forming tweeters to provide the high frequency, supposedly with the added benefit of directional control.

Granted, that list is growing nicely, but it's still nowhere as long as the number of accessories that play nicely with Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant. While the company has a loyal following of people who will definitely purchase the product, he doesn't see most people paying $349 when Amazon's Echo is just $99. Apple describes it as a "breakthrough" music speaker with the intelligence of Siri, its voice-response assistant software. Currently, the Apple Store app makes no mention of the speaker, but we do expect it to appear once the preorder floodgates open.

An update coming later this year will let you link two HomePods together for stereo sound, much like competitor speakers.

Unfortunately, the HomePod does not work with other music streaming platforms except the Cupertino company's own Apple Music service. If you are in the market for a pair of them you won't want to miss this offer.

If you love Apple Music, live fully inside the Apple ecosystem and want a smart speaker reading your text messages to you, this might be for you.

Apple has always placed a premium on design, and the HomePod is no exception. And as expected, industry watchers are now questioning whether the new device can compete with the market leader, Amazon's Echo. This is a bit of a bummer for families or people with roommates, since there's no way to set up multiple user accounts or tailor the music choices to each individual's Apple Music account. Android users must look elsewhere for a smart speaker.

The speaker will work with Apple Music and features are set to include smart home integration, voice messaging and, ultimately, multi-room audio.

Its smart home control capabilities are strong, though. Asking Siri to then play the news then provided a morning digest from the news source of your choosing. Asset manager Boris Schlossberg of FX Strategy advised that Apple is "in trouble" and that they are "making a huge mistake" betting on the high price of the HomePod given the existing market.

Until we're able to test it further, there's no way to know whether HomePod's fantastic sound quality outweighs the downsides.

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