Apple revealed its HomePod smart speaker in its June 2017 WWDC event. It is expected to be available from the last year December, but it was delayed. After a couple of months now Apple is shipping out the HomePod to the user. The HomePod is priced $350, while the other leading smart speakers Amazon echo and Google home price range starts from $50 to $150. Google home max is priced bit higher than the Apple HomePod, but its story is different. In this post let us see whether this $350 Apple HomePod is really useful for its price.
Apple HomePod is getting a mixed review, I don’t want to start with the cons for this well-engineered product. First few points are the pros and then I will get into the cons. So if you want to get a clear cut idea before purchasing this product, please read till the end to get a better idea.
Amazing Sound Engineering
The Apple HomePod is the smallest of all the smart speakers in its price range. But sound quality wise this template beats all other speakers. With its 360-degree surround speaker-set, this speakers sound well.
The speaker includes seven-tweeter array, six-microphone array and one big woofer in the middle. Though it has six microphones this HomePod lacks the core function, which I will explain later in the post.
Best In Class Design
Where the Apple HomePod really justifies its $350 price tag is in its design. Both with the hardware and the software Apple has done a mindblowing job. They even consider the material they choose to use on the HomePod. The mesh design includes a net-like layer on the top and bottom, with tiny wiry coils in between. This design allows the sound waves to travel through the fabric at the same time it protects the speaker from the dust.
By now most of you might have virtually explained by many tech reviewers on how the speaker system works. The speakers and the mics work synchronously to determine its surrounding and automatically adjust the sound according to the environment. The HomePod does this over and over again continuously to ensure the environment it is placed. All these are done in a fraction of a second so you won’t feel any difference while you listen to the music.
Seamless Integration With iOS
The integration of the HomePod with your iPhone is also made simple. The pairing is similar to that of the airpod. All you have to do is to move your (iOS device) near the HomePod when you hear a tone after the pairing is done again you will hear a sound to indicate the pairing is successful. While pairing you will be asked to confirm whether you need your HomePod to accept personal requests, this enables the HomePod to access your message, reminders, and note. Since there are six microphone arrays are continuously listening waking up Siri while the song is playing isn’t that hard.
At the top of the speaker, you have touch display that simply shows changing colors, plus and minus icons. Again Apple has used multiple gestures to interact with this HomePod device.
Siri Can’t Differentiate Your Voice
From this point the cons of the Apple HomePod starts. As told before while setting up your device, the HomePod will ask your permission to access personal details. Once you set up the device that’s it anyone near your HomePod can ask Siri to read your messages and even they can command Siri to reply to the message. Apple engineers have done a great job with the design, they even taken minor details into consideration.
But with the software, they left a big hole. Apple is known for its flawless software releases for the public, but right from the iOS 11 they are focusing on advanced options and leaving the basic features with lots of bugs. As this is a major fault sure there will be an update released soon. To stay updated about the new release and news subscribe to the blog.
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Only Apple Music
Apple is known for locking their customer within their ecosystem. In most of the case you have benefits but sometimes you do feel they are pushing their products hard on you. Apple gives you only Apple music as your default music streaming source. You can airplay music Spotify to HomePod, but you can’t ask Siri to change track or do other smart functions.
Music streaming is one of the major use of the smart speakers, asking your digital assistant to help comes in the second priority only. Hearing music on the HomePod is so enjoyable. No other speakers come near its sound quality. You can clearly identify the instruments used in a song with its rich music. The Google home max is, of course, louder than the Apple HomePod, but the Google speakers are not clear, they distort sound at max volume.
Limited Smart Home Appliance
With the HomePod Siri, you can basic searches that you would normally do. But the Siri can’t do advanced smart home functionalities like the Alexa. With the Siri, you can control locks and lights via the Apple HomeKit. But the rage of appliances covered by Alexa is wider than Siri does. The worst thing is HomePod can’t control Apple TV, again you have to use the AirPlay option.
Recently some of the users have faced a new issue. Apple HomePod is leaving a white round mark on the wooden furniture with oil and wax finishes. The reason Apple gave for this issue is
The marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface.
As a temporary solution, Apple in its documentation says where to place the HomePod and where not to place it (very helpful solution Apple). As an alternative you can use a HomePod pad instead of switching your HomePod location. Pad and Quill provide a leather pad for the HomePod, for which you have to spend $20. Experts shared that Apple can fix this by retooling their process of making HomePod silicon base. Which means that the current Apple speakers will leave the mark, only the next HomePods will have the cure for the white ring. Those who already bought the speakers am sorry, you have to get a pad for your HomePod.
Can’t Connect With iMac
This is the most frustrating thing for me. People who use systems more than their phone will understand this. HomePod is for the iOS devices not for the MacOS. But they are already rumors are out there that Apple in this WWDC will introduce a measure to bring iOS and MacOS closer so that the developers can make the applications for both the OS easily. If that is the case HomePod will support Mac in the future.
Another big issue for media enthusiasts is, you can’t combine two or more Apple HomePod to create a stereo effect. Again this issue can also be fixed with a software update. Already there is news that next update will bring the feature of combining speakers. Oh! Almost forget, you can’t combine HomePod with other devices like android. Airpods gave you the freedom of using it for Android devices, but the HomePod works only with the iOS devices.
Another minor issue some of you may face. You can’t connect headphones to the HomePod.
Remember iPod Hifi
Most of the Apple enthusiasts will remember the Apple iPod HiFi speakers introduced back in 2006. The product was so awesome with many features; you can even take the hifi speaker with you since it has a built-in speaker. But it lacked lots of basic functions that a speaker had at that time; for example, it does not support FM or AM. Apple discontinued this product in 2007.
HomePod also shares same characteristics of the iPod HiFi. Except for the white ring issue and other device connecting issues all other problems can be fixed via the software updates. So chances of discontinuing this product are less.
What Do You Think?
The HomePod is a well engineered superb sounding speaker. But it is not even close to the present-day smart speakers. Siri needs to improve a lot when compared to Google Assistant. If you are out there in the market for your first smart speaker, then HomePod isn’t for you. As an Apple user, what do you think of this smart speaker? Let us discuss in the comment section below. Please subscribe to the blog, to get more interesting tech news.