Apple HomePod: Amazing Sound, But Not for Everybody

Apple HomePod: Amazing Sound, But Not for Everybody

Apple HomePod: Amazing Sound, But Not for Everybody

The HomePod, which was released today, costs $349.

Although Apple has now officially entered the "smart" speaker market, Amazon remains the market leader according to a report from research specialist TrendForce.

A HomePod ordered today is expected to be delivered by February 22 at the earliest, according to the Apple site, though those who preordered are expected to receive them earlier.

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. So today, the company released a playlist congratulating Apple on the launch of the HomePod. Also, the primary service on HomePod is Apple Music. The HomePod includes a high-excursion woofer, seven horn-loaded tweeters that come each with its own custom amplifier, as well as a six-microphone array.

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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 U.S. brethren. Whether you need a current stock price, seek the result of a calculation, wish to set a reminder or record a task, or must send a message, the HomePod can help you perform all those tasks hands-free.

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. Alert Siri and let the HomePod do the work. The question is: will hardcore music fans embrace voice control the way more casual fans have? Buyers can choose between near-black Space Gray or off-white White versions, each with a glossy top panel containing + and - touch surfaces and a swirling globe of rainbow colors to indicate when Siri's in use.

How does Apple´s HomePod compare to Amazon Echo and Google Home? Alexa and Google can draw upon lots of information even before you add third-party skills; Siri on HomePod can get stumped by requests an iPhone can handle. Google's Assistant is also found on its smartphones, while Apple naturally enough relies on the Siri system that is resident in the iconic iPhone series. Indeed, Google is reaching out to the same audience of people who have a discerning ear for music as Apple is with HomePod. It can't yet control iOS devices or Apple TVs, and it can't distinguish between multiple users' voices.

The set-up process is less cumbersome than for the Echo or Google Home, which use a companion app and require some WiFi network selection.

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Perhaps the biggest issue stems from Siri's inability to recognize your voice apart from others.

That is not to say that the Amazon Echo is a bad system in this department, far from it, but the Google Home voice recognition capability is superior to either of its competitors.

One of the worst HomePod limitations is its inability to distinguish different voices, meaning anyone can ask the HomePod to read or send text messages on behalf of the HomePod owner if the owner said yes to all the setup prompts, according to the Verge. "Siri doesn't even work as well on HomePod as it does on the iPhone".

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