First Apple HomePod reviews praised for sound, but not for Siri


Apple's HomePod is finally launching on February 9, but the reviews are already pouring in.

CNET reviewer Megan Wollerton said that the HomePod's sleek design mirrors the aesthetics of Apple's other crowd-pleasing products like the iPhone.

The HomePod's sound quality eclipses competitors like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Sonos One, according to the Wall Street Journal. A feature for pairing two HomePods to create stereo sound will come first, Apple told TechCrunch, while a second update that lets users link HomePods placed in different rooms in a single home, will come later.

For audiophiles, the HomePod is built like a tank with a woofer, a custom amplifier and seven tweeters to provide a rich range of sound, according to reviews from TechCrunch, the Verge and the New York Times. In an apartment, the HomePod could not be louder and more room filling.

In other words, it sounds OK but there's still a ton you can't do with it yet.

But in nearly every other aspect, the HomePod seemed to have fallen short.

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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. The HomePod does have features the Amazon Echo or Google Home don't, such as the ability to play podcasts at a faster speed or use voice to send iMessages and WhatsApp texts, according to Buzzfeed's Nicole Nguyen.

Apple's Hardware Engineering VP, Kate Bergeron told The Loop that Apple has been working on HomePod for nearly six years, claiming the team working on the speaker has grown overtime and allowed it to become the product it is today.

The problem (as The Verge notes in its review) is that Apple doesn't offer any sort of individualised voice recognition. 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. Despite Apple's Music streaming service being available on Android smartphones, an Android user can't set up a HomePod. But he was underwhelmed by a Siri that isn't even as good as the assistant on the iPhone, and which had trouble even playing music by voice command. It warns not to buy the device if you don't have Apple Music - which leaves Spotify subscribers out.

"Seriously, it'll just read your texts to anyone if your phone is anywhere on the same Wi-Fi".

With such self-imposed borders, there is only a limited demographic that can truly harness the power of the HomePod. And minus a few software snafu's, it will be an obvious option for Apple users looking to get a smart speaker.