Apple announced Tuesday that its first smart speaker HomePod, powered by Siri, Apple's voice recognition service, will arrive in stores on Feb. 9, while online pre-orders can be placed this Friday onward.
HomePod hits the markets after its unveiling in June 2017. It will be sold first in the U.S., Britain and Australia, and then in France and Germany this spring.
The 7-inch (about 17.8 centimeters) speaker, priced at 349 U.S. dollars, can send a message, set a timer, check the news or weather information, play music and podcasts, and control other connected devices at home via its built-in Siri voice assistant.
However, HomePod is going to face cutthroat competition from strong and well-entrenched rivals Amazon Echo and Google Home, which were launched in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
Both Amazon and Google have taken the advantage of their early start to add more varieties to their product lineups and thousands of apps to their devices.
Besides, they have a price edge as well. Google Home has a price tag of 129 dollars and the second-generation Echo costs 99.99 dollars.