Early HomePod Reviews Tout Audio Superiority
After an initial delay, Apple HomePod went on pre-order in late January and hit stores on Friday, February 9. HomePod is Apple’s delayed entry to the smart speaker market, but the Cupertino company has never been afraid to jump into an existing marketplace. After all, iPhone was not the first smartphone and Apple Watch was hardly close to being the first wearable. Apple tends to let a particular product genre slightly mature, before jumping-in with a competitor crushing device. But, did Apple miss the mark with HomePod?
Apple HomePod Reviews
Early reviews of Apple HomePod are quite a mixed bag. Many reviews highlight Siri’s lack of functionality on the device, which is only a half-way version of the voice assistant’s capabilities when compared to iOS devices. Siri sometimes lacks the ability to target a requested artist or album, as highlighted in Apple Insider’s video review below.
The Verge claims the device is “openly hostile to any hardware or service not made by Apple.” It is hard to disagree with this statement, given you must own another Apple device to fully control and even set up the speaker. Also, having an Apple Music subscription is critical for fluid operation. Asking Siri to play music will specifically run through Apple Music or music purchased on your Apple ID. However, it will not play any other music service natively from the HomePod.
How Do the HomePod Reviews Compare to Competition
If you intend on using Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, etc., you will need to use the corresponding device on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, and then AirPlay the music over to HomePod.
This walled-garden approach is nothing new to Apple products, but it does seem like the closed environment of HomePod is a deterrent to any non-Apple customers. Other speakers, from a variety of other providers, welcome all types of streaming services. However, as Apple Insider found, the other hardware struggles to outperform the HomePod when only considering the audio performance.
Just doing a simple Google search through HomePod reviews will return article after article, confirming the hype that surrounds the audio quality of this device. Some reviewers have boldly claimed the HomePod can give $1,000 speakers a solid run for their money.
Popular consumer gadget analyst David Pogue of Yahoo gave a glowing review of Apple’s HomePod and trashed Google’s $500 Home Max, stating it’s a “12-pound machine that’s supposed to be all about the sound; it sounded like cardboard compared with the HomePod and Sonos.” Continuing, he notes the Home Max “contains only two tweeters and two woofers; the HomePod contains seven tweeters, arranged in a circle, and a gigantic, 4-inch woofer, capable of moving .8 inches.”
However, reviewers deride HomePod for Siri’s lack of abilities. Compared to Amazon’s Alexa powered smart speakers, Siri lacks in many categories. This is likely why Apple spends a majority of its marketing on the audio quality, placing it, first, as an impressive speaker, that happens to do a few things via Siri.
Apple HomePod is now available online and at Apple brick-and-mortar stores for $350 in White and Space Gray. It is also now available from other electronic retailers.