(Pocket-lint) - The Apple HomePod is now available to buy from John Lewis ahead of the in-store launch this Friday.
If you buy one in advance you can collect it from any John Lewis or Waitrose store on Friday - the day of release in the US, UK and Australia. It's available in two colours, white or space grey.
HomePod is available for £319 in the UK ($349 US) from the Apple Store, select Apple Authorised Resellers, Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis, Shop Direct (Very and Littlewoods), EE and Apple Premium Resellers.
In terms of what the HomePod requires, you'll need to have an iPhone 5S or later, iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation) with iOS 11.2.5 or later. And yes, it will work with AirPlay on a Mac or Apple TV, too.
The Apple HomePod is both a music speaker and a home controlling hub, as it is HomeKit compatible.
HomePod will connect to the internet using your Wi-Fi network, streaming music from Apple Music, iTunes purchases or playing Beats 1 Radio. You can also listen to podcasts via Apple's own app. You can ask for all of these things via Siri on the HomePod.
HomePod can also handle advanced searches within Apple Music’s catalogue, so you can ask questions like, “Hey Siri, when was this song released?” or “Hey Siri, can you play something totally different?”.
AirPlay is supported, of course, so you can play music or other audio from iPhone, iPad, Macs and Apple TV. So, for example, you will be able to AirPlay non-Apple audio like Spotify or BBC Radio from your phone, but you won't be able to ask Siri for this stuff on the HomePod.
Apple previously detailed that AirPlay 2, incorporated into HomePod, will give you multiroom audio control, like Sonos does. That's coming later in the year.