Apple starts taking pre-orders for its new HomePod today — Apple's $349 smart speaker with built-in Siri — with units to arrive starting February 9, 2018. Although the HomePod itself is ready, Apple's AirPlay 2 software won't come out until "later this year" according to Apple (whenever that is). With AirPlay 2, you will be able to add a second HomePod for stereo sound, and you will also be able to put multiple HomePods in different rooms so that the music stays in sync everywhere. I'm intrigued by the HomePod and I look forward to reading the reviews, but I'm not in a rush to get one. Virtually all of the time that I am listening to music or podcasts, I don't want to bother others with my audio, so AirPods make much more sense for me than a HomePod. Having said that, it does look like a neat device. And now, the news of note from the past week:
- This week saw the release of iOS 11.2.5, but Apple is already preparing for the next update, and posted this preview of iOS 11.3. New features include additional information and settings on battery life and performance, the ability to download your health records into the Health app (if your hospital supports it), augmented reality improvements, and new animoji in the Messages app.
- These are not full reviews, but a few folks got early looks at the HomePod this week such as Lance Ulanoff and Madeline Buxton of Refinery29.
- The TripIt app added an interesting new feature for TripIt Pro users this week: security line wait times, to help you figure out how long it will take you to get to your gate. For now, the feature is only available at airports in Austin, Denver, Orlando and Phoenix. For more information, see this post by Angela Feher on the TripIt Blog.
- Brad Ellis offers an interesting perspective on the design decisions that went into the shape of the iPhone X.
- This week, Apple announced a partnership with the Malala Fund to promote secondary education for girls. Josh McConnell of iMore offers this report.
- And finally, if you are going to promote the feature of taking selfie pictures on an iPhone, why not go all the way and use Muhammad Ali, as Apple did in this cute video: