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Apple HomePod: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

The company accidentally spilled the beans on what we can expect to see on the HomePod -- and just about every other upcoming Apple product.

At this point, we probably know way more about the HomePod than Apple would have liked.

Some of what we know about the company's voice-assistant speaker has come from intrepid reporting. In May 2016, The Information reported that Apple was developing a standalone speaker powered by Siri, the company's digital assistant. CNET followed that up with a report suggesting that the speaker could feature a built-in camera and facial recognition software -- two features that we now know are very likely to appear on the forthcoming iPhone 8.

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Developers exploring the HomePod's firmware are finding clues about a range of forthcoming Apple products.

James Martin/CNET

Since then, Apple itself has volunteered a bunch of details, too -- both intentionally and otherwise. At the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, confirmed the approximate launch date, a handful of specs and the price during his keynote:

  • Available in December in the US, UK and Australia
  • Sends messages
  • Supports Siri and Apple Music
  • Compatible with HomeKit, Apple's smart home platform
  • Spatial awareness
  • White and space grey finishes
  • Starting at $349 (£270 and AU$465)

Then, in a bizarre twist, the company inadvertently scooped itself, prematurely releasing a firmware update for the HomePod at the end of July. While the version of iOS 11 that was previously released for testing had been carefully scrubbed of references to unannounced features, the HomePod version was full of dirt. The Internet promptly went nuts, as developers began digging into the code, uncovering intriguing clues related to a range of products including iOS 11, the iPhone 8 and the HomePod.

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Since then, the rumor mill has been steadily pumping out new fodder, revelations and tidbits alike, about the HomePod. Conspiracy theorists suggest the company has intentionally leaked the info to prime public interest. In 2017, who knows what's real?

In that spirit, and with the caveat that what follows is all unofficial -- as usual, the company declined to comment -- we present the most compelling HomePod rumors of the day.

It has some sort of a screen

Steve Troughton-Smith, the developer who first discovered many of the juiciest bits hiding in the firmware leak, tweeted that the HomePod has an "LED matrix" that could "perhaps display shapes/symbols." Another developer, Avery Magnotti, followed that up with a screenshot of the code that refers to a 272x340 resolution. Though the such a display is primarily designed primarily to confirm that Siri is listening to your command, it could include virtual volume control buttons and other elements for navigational or UI purposes.

It runs a full version of iOS -- just like the iPhone and iPad

Troughton-Smith discovered that the HomePod runs a full version of Apple's iOS mobile operating system -- just like the iPhone and iPad. Though the device appears to support Accessibility features like VoiceOver, it does not seem to accommodate the installation of apps or extensions -- for now. In contrast, Amazon's smart speakers support third-party extensions, allowing third-party developers to create apps without needing native support. We assume Apple will eventually follow suit.

It will be as powerful as a iPhone 6

Developers also found evidence suggesting that the HomePod will come equipped with 1GB of RAM and an Apple A8 processor -- making it as about as powerful as an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus in terms of hardware. If true, the HomePod will be the most powerful speaker of its kind, with far more processing firepower than any model in Amazon's or Google's portfolios. (To be fair, those company's smart speakers are also much less expensive.)

It will make a bunch of cool new Apple-ish sounds

Magnotti also discovered new sounds and audio bits related to the HomePod's UI including an alarm, timer, and "passcode tone." He runs through them all in the YouTube video below.