Apple's long-awaited HomePod speakers begin shipping on Feb. 9, 2018, giving the company a challenger in the smart home speaker arena to the long-standing Amazon Echo, as well as the new Google Home.
It also will introduce Siri to a world outside users' phones and tablets, as well as possibly help Apple Music to become the most popular U.S. music streaming service, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But how does the HomePod stack up in a increasingly crowded marketplace of smart speakers and virtual assistants?
Price: $349 Virtual assistant: Siri - the familiar voice from iPhone is rolled out as the virtual assistant in the HomePod. Primary music streaming option: Apple Music -- while you can play other music from your iPhone via AirPlay, HomePod's primary music source is Apple's proprietary service. Notable features: The speaker is the strength of the HomePod, with seven tweeters placed in a circle, as well as a woofer. Overall: The HomePod is the newest -- and most expensive -- of the three devices, and is relying on the audio quality of the HomePod to make it a player in the increasingly crowded marketplace.
Price: $39.99 (Echo Dot) to $99.99 (Echo) on Amazon Virtual assistant: Alexa Primary music streaming option: Amazon Prime Music and Music Unlimited allow users to use their Echo to stream music, and the device also supports Spotify Premium. Notable feature: Amazon allows users to order Prime-eligible physical products with the Echo with just their voice, as well as to order music over the device. Overall: Amazon was the first to enter the marketplace and has an advantage in terms of price and longevity. The Echo Dot is an inexpensive option, but doesn't quite have the speaker that the Echo does, with both products getting a price cut during the holidays that has stuck around in the new year.
Price: $39 (Google Home Mini) to $99 (Google Home) in the Google Store Virtual assistant: Google Primary music streaming option: Google Play, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Red are all supported on the Google Home device. Notable feature: Backed by Google, the Home's virtual assistant searches the web for answers to questions asked of it, giving it a bit of an edge over others in that category. Overall: Like the Echo, the Home doesn't offer the speaker quality of the HomePod, but is much more affordable.