Saturday, 23 June, 2018

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

Reviewers love HomePod's loud, bass-y sound, but hate how dumb Siri is Here's how Apple is displaying HomePod in its retail stores [Gallery]
Eleanor Moreno | 11 February, 2018, 05:21

Sonos is now offering a truly stereo pair of Sonos One speakers for $349 to directly challenge the HomePod at the same price point.

But how does the speaker, which Apple says is more of a music device than a smart home hub, compare to the popular smart speakers?

The above being said, the HomePod is starting to seem like a niche product targeting Apple's loyal fanbase.

Also worth noting here: if you're on Android you are fat out of luck - this is an Apple speaker that implores you to go all in on Apple.

Apple's new $349 smart speaker HomePod officially hit stores today, and you're probably already aware that the initial reviews have been mixed: Generally positive on the sonic performance, generally neutral-to-positive on the industrial design, and disappointed to downright negative on Siri. The attached 21 track playlist "Welcome to the Party Mix" is hosted on Spotify which is a jab itself as Apple has chose to not yet support direct Spotify playback on HomePod that Sonos offers. There's a lot of stuff about "high-excursion woofers" and "custom seven-tweeter arrays" that we'll spare you, but the real kicker is that it's intelligent enough to adapt the sound according to where you place it in the room and what music you're playing.

The company's latest hardware product arrives for pre-order customers and in stores on Friday, a late entrant in the smart speaker market led by Amazon.com Inc's Echo devices and Google's Home gadgets. The HomePod also works only with iOS devices. 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.

Apple Music can be controlled by voice commands to Siri.


You'll similarly be able to balance two HomePods next to each other for a complete stereo effect but must wait for a free software update from Apple coming later in the year. Now questions abound over whether Apple can compete in a hotly contested market with a virtual assistant in Siri that doesn't work as well as Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant.

So can Siri take on Alexa?

The HomePod is one of the priciest home speaker models out there, priced just $50 less than the Google Home Max.

Siri data is retained - to help tailor music recommendations and other actions - but only on your device, not on Apple's central servers.

The set-up process is less cumbersome than for the Echo or Google Home, which use a companion app and require some WiFi network selection. This is a nifty feature which arguably gives the device an edge over the other two speakers here.

Perhaps the biggest issue stems from Siri's inability to recognize your voice apart from others.

Google Home Max launched this week. You will need an Apple device to set up a HomePod - Apple for compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models through iOS 11.2.5 that was released last month. At times, not only did HomePod respond, but so did Siri on my nearby iPhone.

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