Apple HomePod Review Round-Up: iOS-Focused High-Quality Speaker
The first audio-centric speaker from Apple caters to 360-degree sound output and supports Siri.
After a long wait, Apple has finally released its HomePod smart speaker and is available in countries like the US and some parts of Europe. Priced at $349 (Rs 22,336 approx), HomePod caters to Apple users with its built-in Siri integration, and only works via AirPlay.
While the HomePod is yet to hit our shores, global publications have played around with the device, sharing their opinion on it. And here’s what everyone has to say about the latest Apple product.
HomePod Centers Around Apple’s Closed Garden – The Verge
The author has simply indicated that the HomePod’s music capability offers good value for its money, but the product lacks in the ‘smart’ department.
Unlike Amazon’s Alexa and Google with its Google Assistant, HomePod’s over reliance on Siri ensures that some intuitive features aren’t available to the users.
According to The Verge, HomePod is openly hostile to any hardware or service not made by Apple.
This has been repeatedly emphasised, and in addition to what Siri can’t do, they’ve also mentioned that HomePod only works via Apple Music for now. At this price tag, HomePod can’t restrict itself to its own products, and will have to allow third-party apps like Spotify, TuneIn to work, in order to expand its user base.
The HomePod currently works on its own, but will support pairing with another HomePod in the coming months, just in case you don’t mind spending another 20K on it.
In any and all cases, to get the most out of the HomePod, you must have a subscription to an Apple music service and an iOS device to set up the speaker.HomePod review
However, try accessing Siri on the HomePod, and before you even realise, your iPhone and iPad’s Siri will jump in and respectfully respond.
But they were quick to commend the music quality of HomePod, calling it “a superb speaker that sets a new benchmark for sound quality in its size and price class.”
All in all, if you’re already invested into Apple and its ecosystem, then HomePod pushes you further into the walled garden (unless things open up for the good).
HomePod Sounds Great, But Wait Before Buying It - CNET
CNET quickly points out that “The Apple HomePod produces awesome sound across a broad range of genres, making it stand out, particularly compared to the $199 Sonos One, Google's $399 Home Max.”
The guys at CNET are impressed with the overall look and feel of the HomePod. Compared to the Google Home Max, this one stands at 2.5 kg, and has got a petite frame to match it up.
You press the button on the centre of the speaker to activate Siri, but it doesn’t come with a screen. Tap on the button to play/pause music, and by double-tapping on it, you can skip to the next track.
HomePod does not have a button that lets you mute Siri on the device, while Amazon has that feature on its Echo speaker.
With respect to sound out, Apple claims, “HomePod can project omnidirectional sound through a feature called ‘spatial awareness’. No matter where you put your speaker, a built-in accelerometer (movement and motion sensor) is supposed to kick in and recalibrate based on its location.”
Buying HomePod would also require you to buy iPhone (if you already don’t have one), as (sadly) Android devices won’t work with the device. Safe to say, Apple is betting big on the sound prowess of HomePod, while other features have been put on the backburner.
“Everyone else should wait to see what Apple will add to this promising speaker in the months ahead, above and beyond the already promised stereo pairing and multiroom AirPlay 2 features”, is how CNET summarises its take on the HomePod.
Sounds Great, But Not Smart Enough – Wired
HomePod sounds great, but that’s expected from a product which costs $349. In its blatant assessment of the speaker, Wired states they could buy two Sonos speakers for the price of one HomePod and manage to break the ecosystem barrier that Apple has put across with HomePod.
They were also critical about Siri’s limitations, when compared to Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. “The trouble is Siri regularly misunderstands what you say to it, or gets hold of the wrong end of the stick altogether. The voice interface is not as polished as Alexa or Google Assistant either.”
It has become quite obvious that the HomePod epitomises everything that Apple stands for; top quality sound, superior design and premium price tag. But Apple has been repeatedly asked to enhance and expand the reach and capability of Siri, making it second-best compared to Alexa and Google Assistant, which works against HomePod in this case.
HomePod hasn’t launched in India yet (no mention about its price either), but if Apple hopes to release this product in a Android-friendly market, then third-party access might be their only gateway.
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