Apple's HomePod Is Not The Smartest Of The Smart Speakers


Just as Siri will happily give anybody free rein with your messages if you leave "Personal Requests" turned on, so the assistant will also give any HomePod user access to your Apple Music account.

HomePod was delayed from its original December release date until today, which initial reports blamed on unspecified software issues, and later reports suggested were due to problems with multi-HomePod synchronization - specifically two units in one room, or more units across a house.

There's a long history of companies snarkily welcoming major new entrants to the space they're known for, famously going back to Apple's "Welcome, IBM".

This year, 30 million people in the US will use an Amazon Echo, according to eMarketer, which projected overall voice-enabled smart speak share at 68% for Amazon Echo and 25% for Google Home.

Apple's HomePod sounds fantastic, but it's meant to be used with Apple Music - you'll need an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad with Apple Music installed in order to even set up the HomePod. As you'll see in our hands on Apple HomePod review, there's a lot to love about the audio quality of the speaker, even if Siri's smart features have some catching up to do to match its Amazon rival.

Siri may be your HomePod's voice controlled DJ and smart assistant, but you don't have to control playback exclusively by voice if you don't want to.

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The speaker system in the HomePod is impressive, but you can get better for $350.

Despite the impressive music set-up, the HomePod does have some limitations.

Select Apple Authorised Resellers, including Best Buy in the US; Argos, Dixons Carphone (Currys PC World), John Lewis, Shop Direct (Very and Littlewoods), EE and Apple Premium Resellers in the United Kingdom; and The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra in Australia, have also started selling the HomePod locally. A connection via Apple's own AirPlay technology is needed to connect the speaker to the internet, and link an Apple Music account to it for streaming.

Setting up my HomePod this afternoon took under 5 minutes from unboxing to listening to some music. It should also be able to hand calls and messages off to other Apple products as seamlessly as iOS and macOS devices can. A true stereo mode would be great, too. Further, there is Siri integration to let you interact with the HomePod directly using your own voice.

The CRN Test Center was not offered a tryout unit of the $349 HomePod, but multiple reviews confirm that Siri on the HomePod doesn't come with some basic voice assistant capabilities, such as managing your calendar (not even your Apple calendar). Siri needs to be better everywhere, and really excellent on screenless devices like HomePod, particularly when you're posing a series of questions about the same topic.