Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Apple's pricey HomePod sounds great but exacts some trade-offs

Reviewers love HomePod's loud, bass-y sound, but hate how dumb Siri is Apple's pricey HomePod sounds great but exacts some trade-offs
Derrick Tucker | 11 February, 2018, 05:15

In Australia, Google's Home has been available for some time, while Amazon's Alexa devices - the Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus - was only released this month, finally bringing Antipodeans in line with their United States brethren. Thanks to this handy feature, the HomePod is capable of identifying your music preferences based on your Apple Music account.

You can control HomePod from your iPhone, though iOS doesn't make it especially easy.

Apple says that every time you move the speaker, it senses the motion and then automatically adjusts itself to its placement in the room using a series of test tones and complex algorithms to minimize reflections from nearby walls or other objects.

Considering Apple spent more than six years in design and development, not to mention for the price point ($499), you'd want HomePod to sound this good. First, HomePod puts more focus on audio performance than technology-led home assistance which he state should be the "core value" of a smart speaker.

Likewise, The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern said that "HomePod nails the speaker but struggles at smart".

However, Nest is only compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, while Samsung SmartThings, also only works with Google Assistant and Alexa.

Indeed, the Apple HomePod is an excellent standalone speaker system, and could be purchased for this reason alone. You can ask Siri "what's the weather tomorrow in Toledo, Ohio?"

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TechCrunch: "Apple's HomePod is easily the best sounding mainstream smart speaker ever". It's cylindrical in shape and slightly less than 7 inches tall, making it about the same size as a Sonos One, but considerably smaller than the Home Max. Others prefer subtle white noise or unobtrusive ambient music play in offices to improve their concentration, provide some privacy, and mute varied conversations, HVAC sounds, and other environmental noises that are common in offices. This is thanks to Apple's own intelligent personal assistant, Siri.

When it comes to music, Google, and for that matter Amazon, can help you play a song in which you can't recall the title and only remember a few lyrics.

More: A smart home sounds like a great idea.

Google Home Max launched this week.

For all the features and functionality, though, Siri still needs a lot of work. Apple is betting big that they will. Another question: are there enough people out there willing to pay that much more for better sound?

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.

The competition for voice-controlled smart devices has really only just begun, and smart homes will soon be followed by AI in our cars and offices. But getting the right answers matters to consumers - and at the moment it looks like Siri doesn't even understand the questions.

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