Apple’s Internet-connected HomePod speaker goes on sale Feb. 9, and the reviews are now pouring in.
The tech giant announced the HomePod speaker last summer, and originally planned to release it in December. However, Apple (AAPL) then delayed the HomePod’s debut, reportedly to modify its software.
Now that the HomePod is nearing arrival, it faces stiff competition from competing web-connected speakers like the Amazon (AMZN) Echo, Google (GOOG) Home, and Sonos One. The HomePod is the priciest of the speakers at $350.
So far, reviewers seem pleased with the HomePod’s sound quality, but are underwhelmed by the version of Apple’s voice activated Siri digital assistant used in the speaker. Here’s a roundup of what those reviewers are saying:
Listening to Fleetwood Mac on the HomePod
The HomePod’s sound quality eclipses competitors like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Sonos One, according to the Wall Street Journal. When testing HomePod by listening to Tusk by Fleetwood Mac, reviewer Joanna Stern could distinguish the individual instruments like the drums, horns, and background vocals while walking through her kitchen. When played through the Amazon Echo and Google Home, however, the same section of Tusk sounded “like mush,” while the Sonos One presented more detail, yet still trailed the HomePod.
Siri Needs to Get Better At Recommending Music
The New York Times, reviewer Brian X. Chen acknowledged the HomePod’s “superior sound quality” compared to competing speakers. However, he pinned the HomePod’s failings on Siri, which failed to play songs that matched Chen’s musical tastes. When Chen asked Siri to play a tune, he had hoped it would choose a song from his favorites artists like Beck, The Talking Heads, and David Bowie. Instead, it played him songs by the likes of Dashboard Confessional, Taylor Swift, and Leroy Frances—none of which are similar to his preferred artists.
Siri Needs To Get Better At Recognizing People’s Voices
The version of Siri used in the HomePod lacks some of the features of its competitors like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, which can do things like play shows from one’s Apple TV video-streaming device, writes The Verge’s Nilay Patel. Siri’s “worst omission,” however, is that it can’t tell different voices apart, leading to some potential problems including privacy, Patel notes.
“If your HomePod is in the kitchen and you’re in the basement, anyone can just roll up on the HomePod and have it read your texts,” he writes. “If you have kids, they can just text anyone at will while you’re in the bathroom and you can’t stop it.”
HomePod Works Well With Apple Music, but Not Others
Although people can use their voices to ask their HomePod to play a particular song, they can only do so if they are Apple Music subscribers, writes Buzzfeed’s Nicole Nguyen. Users of competing music streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, and Google Play can’t, and must instead use their smartphones to wirelessly stream their songs to HomePod and then use their phones to play other songs.
HomePod Looks Nice
CNET reviewer Megan Wollerton said that the HomePod’s sleek design mirrors the aesthetics of Apple’s other crowd-pleasing products like the iPhone. “It looks good, but not distractingly so,” Wollerton writes. One thing to note, however, is that the HomePod’s power cord doesn’t detach, so people may “have to hide it under a rug” if you want to show it off in the middle of a room, she notes.
Apple CEO Tim Cook Likes This Review
Apple CEO Tim Cook singled out TechCrunch’s HomePod review via Twitter on Tuesday, and wrote “Listen up!” in a nod to the review’s positive comments about the device’s sound qualify.
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panarino writes that the HomePod is essentially a speaker designed for Apple Music subscribers, and while it’s limited for people who use other streaming music services, it sounds good and works well with Apple’s streaming service.
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“If you don’t like Apple Music, don’t buy a HomePod,” Panarino writes.