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Apple’s HomePod will be released on February 9, around two months after it was first due to go on sale.

The Siri-powered smart speaker, a competitor to Amazon’s Echo range and the Google Home speaker, was announced in June last year and was originally due to be released by the end of 2017, but Apple was forced to delay it in November.

The company said the HomePod will cost £319 in the UK, and will be made available for pre-order from today, Friday January 26, before going on sale two weeks later.

Despite being among the first of the major technology companies to have a smart assistant, unveiling Siri back in 2011, Apple has been late to the market for voice-activated speakers. Amazon released its first Echo in 2014 and now has an array of different speakers, while the Google Home was released in 2016.

The HomePod costs significantly more than both, but Apple is hoping that customer loyalty and superior sound quality will convince consumers to buy it. The device is designed to work with the Apple Music streaming service, and will not be compatible with other services like Spotify.

However, it will be able to make phone calls through an iPhone, send messages and read the news, as well as controlling “smart home” devices such as lights and heating systems that are compatible with Apple’s HomeKit system. The company added on Wednesday that it will be able to send WhatsApp messages and use note-taking apps such as Evernote.

The speaker will not be compatible with multi-room audio or stereo sound at first, but that will arrive with a software update later this year.

The HomePod is the second new category of product Apple has released under Cook’s leadership following the Apple Watch and its delay ahead of Christmas was seen as a blow.

Amazon said it sold tens of millions of Echo speakers over the period, while Google says it had sold more than one Google Home speaker a second since releasing its Mini model in October.

Source: The Telegraph