Here's how Apple is displaying HomePod in its retail stores [Gallery]

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Underneath the iPhone music controls there's another section for HomePod: tap that, and you can play/pause, skip tracks, and adjust the volume.

Apple's past week was all about sound. Vocals were pure, bass deep. Case in point: this isn't even the first time it's been repurposed against Apple for a music product - Rdio wrote "Welcome, Apple".

Recode: "HomePod has what can only be explained by the most balanced audio, not just of any smart speaker but of any speaker I now own, which includes a number of Sonos speakers and a Bose Home Theatre system", said Recode's Ben Bajarin. If you've already started listening to a favorite podcast on your iPhone, as long as you've got "Listening History" sharing turned on, HomePod will automatically resume wherever you last left off. Early reviewers of HomePod noted that even though stereo pairing is not yet available, audio quality was unexpectedly satisfying and 9to5Mac's Ben Lovejoy believes it to be a Sonos Play 5 killer.

You can play podcasts and Apple's Beats 1 radio or listen to news from a variety of sources (NPR, CNN, CNBC, ESPN, Fox News, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, NBC, BBC), too.

It's easy to assume that Apple's technological and financial might will allow it to catch up. Others prefer subtle white noise or unobtrusive ambient music play in offices to improve their concentration, provide some privacy, and mute varied conversations, HVAC sounds, and other environmental noises that are common in offices. But while Apple stores may be in short supply of the speaker, you're likely to have more luck at the many third-party retailers also offering the curvy speaker.

Apple's Audio Lab, where the HomePod was developed. Siri on HomePod focused on doing a few things well for the individual and the communal family of the house, and from my experience, it did those things well.

Find the music-playback controls - by default in the top right.

To put it to test, I sampled an eclectic mix of music: a lineup of artists that included Sinatra, Springsteen, Santana and Sia.

Jim Dalrymple, an Apple expert at Loop Insights, a tech news site, said he was "pleasantly surprised by how well the music in the room seemed to just kind of envelope you".

HomePod will be powered by Siri.

"Siri on HomePod is not as full-featured as Siri on your Macs or iOS devices, and this was done by design".

He also described Siri functionalities of the speaker. "We made you a playlist", Sonos said in the tweet.

And it is "spatially aware", Apple's fancy way of saying that the speaker senses the environment you place it in and adapts accordingly in seconds, using an accelerometer, Apple's A8 chip, and an array of six microphones.

9to5Mac stopped at Apple's new Michigan Avenue store in Chicago and Apple The Summit in Birmingham, AL today to take a look and listen to how well HomePod performs in acoustic conditions that will differ significantly from most people's homes.

For sure, HomePod's $349 price will be a disqualifier for some of you.

The Apple HomePod, the Cupertino brand's answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home, is officially launching this February 9.

The Sonos One doesn't sound as good as HomePod either.

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