By now you’ve probably heard of Apple’s leap into the smart speaker market. In February of this year, the company released their HomePod for sale.
Apple is known for their revolutionary technology from their phones to their laptops, televisions and more. It only makes sense that they’d try to find their place among the rising trend of smart home technology. But, how do they stack up?
In this review, we’ll examine the features of the Apple HomePod, the Apple HomePod Price, and take a look at some other Apple HomePod reviews.
As Far As Home Speakers Go, How Does the HomePod Fare?
Let’s examine some of the capabilities of the Apple HomePod and see how they compare to other popular home speaker systems on the market today.
Apple insists that this product is not a response to any competitors’ advancements but has been in development for over 6 years. Regardless, the expectations for a smart speaker are established and the Apple HomePod has to meet them.
It seems that the primary focus of the Apple HomePod is sound quality and smart assistant integration seems to be an afterthought. But that’s important in a speaker after all, right? The Apple HomePod was even praised for its sound quality by The Verge.
“And while it’s true that the HomePod sounds incredible — it sounds far better than any other speaker in its price range — it also demands that you live entirely inside Apple’s ecosystem in a way that even Apple’s other products do not.”
The audio capabilities of the HomePod are billed as “spatial” meaning that they are self-adjusting based on the specifics of the space the unit is placed in. The HomePod then splits audio into “direct” and “ambient” sound – positioning “direct” sound to the center of the room and bouncing “ambient” sound off of the surrounding walls.
The Apple HomePod is equipped with Siri, but not any exclusive features of Siri. The Siri that is a part of the HomePod is the same Siri that you are familiar with on your iPhone, iPad, MacBook or any other Apple product you own.
You can ask Siri to search on Safari, add to your iCalendar, check Apple’s weather app, play music from Apple Music, and other functions you’d expect from Siri. The area where Siri is lacking is in the ability for third-parties to integrate their app services. This is similar to complaints many have regarding Google’s Home Max. Amazon’s Alexa platform is no doubt leading the way in third-party app collaboration.
But, if you’re an Apple product user already, the HomePod may integrate quite well into your everyday life and the superior Audio quality may make it worth it for you. On the topic of audio, it certainly helps that Apple is the most popular home to music and podcasts. Apple makes claims that, “Apple Music unlocks virtually every song you can imagine,” and with over 45 million tracks available for instant streaming it certainly seems that way.
Keep in mind that other speakers likely integrate apps like Pandora and Spotify, but Apple Music is exclusive to Apple products.
A recently released iOS update adds some new functionality to HomePod speakers. In May of 2018, Apple rolled out iOS 11.4 that brought AirPlay 2 with it. AirPlay 2 adds multi-room functionality for HomePods and Apple TVs. As other AirPlay 2-enabled devices come to the market those will also be compatible with multi-room playback. The update also brought a stereo functionality to the Apple HomePod. Owners of two of the units can pair them together for a true-stereo experience.
Pricing of the Apple HomePod
If you were thinking about spending nearly $350 on home audio, you may have been hoping to get the entire home speaker system. That isn’t exactly the case with the Apple HomePod which retails at $349 – though the high-excursion woofer with custom amplifier, array of seven tweeters each having its own custom amplifier, and direct and ambient audio beamforming, the Apple HomePod nearly rivals a complete home speaker system in terms of audio quality.
For comparison, the Google Home Max retails at $399. The Google Home Max boasts many similar characteristics to the Apple HomePod but does have some minor differences including slightly advanced third-party app support.
What Do You Think of the Apple HomePod?
While the Apple HomePod is not the right choice for every consumer, it does serve its intended purpose and would be a wise purchasing decision for many. Its pros include exceptional audio quality, seamless integration with existing Apple products, and beautiful design. Where it lacks in functionality it makes up for in ease. As with most Apple products, you shouldn’t expect it to work beautifully outside of its brand.
We hope this guide has shed some light on Apple’s new smart speaker and helped you gain some insight on the market for smart home technology in 2018.