Following in the steps of rivals Amazon and Google, Apple’s first step into the realm of smart speakers is approaching launch day.

After Amazon revolutionised tech assistants with the Amazon Echo and Google tried to build that further with the Google Home, Apple are ready to launch their copy for double the price. The Apple HomePod launches 9th February, and you can pre-order it now for the steep price of $349.

The HomePod comes a few years late to the game, Amazon having founded the home speaker market 4 years ago already. Coming so late to the game, and from a brand such as Apple you would think that this must be the definitive home smart speaker but in fact it doesn’t really add anything except a far bigger price tag.

The HomePod does actually boast it’s supposed high-fidelity audio quality using seven multi-directional tweeters and one woofer. Apple opted against using a mid-range driver in their speaker which most home speakers come with but Apple are confident that their quality will be superior. Whether this truly equates to better quality we’ll have to experience for ourselves.

Beyond audio quality the HomePod is a pretty basic smart home speaker with the basic features of it’s rivals. It has Siri built in with multi-directional microphones for voice commands which allows you to play music, get the news, arrange your planner and so on – the usual.

We’ll have to see what the reviews say but Apple’s speaker is almost double the cost of competing smart speakers like Google Home ($129) and the Amazon Echo ($99 or cheaper). Maybe once it comes out everything will make sense but it seems now that Apple are in for a shameless cash grab, and unfortunately it will probably shift good units.

Until it launches, here’s some aggressive brand-vertising: