Now that the Apple Watch dominates the smartwatch market, the smart speaker is the next area that Apple wants to conquer with the HomePod . We have tested the speaker extensively and in this HomePod review we lean on two thoughts.
Apple And Music
Apple has always had a special relationship with music. With the iPod and iTunes , the company turned the music industry upside down. With Apple Music and the AirPods , music is still deeply rooted in the DNA of the company in 2018.
That is why it is no surprise that after Google and Amazon, Apple also joins the fight for a place in the living room with a speaker with digital assistant.
Although the Google Home and Amazon Echo are two major competitors of the HomePod, Apple tackles things slightly differently. Where the speakers from Amazon and Google are first and foremost a way to talk to a digital assistant, the HomePod focuses primarily on playing music.
Siri Is Still Not Smart Enough
That is no coincidence, because Siri is a lot less smart compared to the Google Assistant and Alexa. Voice commands sometimes produce crazy results, and sometimes you get two different answers to the same question. The ignorance of Siri is really painfully clear with the HomePod, because you mainly use the device here. To make matters worse, Apple has limited the possibilities of Siri.
Apple believes that you buy a speaker in the first place for the sound quality and only in the second place to ask Siri some questions. A thought that I agree with after a week of testing.
Apple Puts Audio Quality First
The HomePod sounds fantastic. I am not an audio expert, but I immediately heard the difference between the HomePod and the Bose speaker that I have been using at home for a while.Because the HomePod always adapts itself to the music you listen to, the music sounds crystal clear and you hear every instrument and sound effect come into its own.
Do not be fooled by the relatively small size of the HomePod. The speaker can vibrate a table with the bass, and the volume can be so loud that your neighbors can enjoy it with ease. That makes the HomePod also ideal for example in an office to put away, because in the speaker is enough power to fill a large space.
This is because the HomePod is equipped with seven tweeters, each with its own amplifier. A special algorithm tunes the bass tones per song, so that songs do not sound too heavy and the deep bass tones can only be heard if they really match the number. On the top is a large touchscreen that shows the recognizable Siri icon when the assistant listens to you. In most cases, however, you will see a simple plus and minus, to change the volume.
The speaker also scans the room so that the sound can be tuned to the room where it is located.As we are used to from Apple all this happens without you having to raise a finger. You simply keep your iPhone above the HomePod to set it up for the first time. Then the speaker is ready in a few minutes.
The HomePod Remains Deliberately Limited
And with that, we immediately cut one of the pain points of the HomePod. It is one of the most limited products that Apple has ever published. So you can not even operate or install the speaker without iPhone or iPad. This is because the HomePod does not support bluetooth and only listens to AirPlay. As a result, all Android users immediately fall outside the boat.
It does not stop there. The HomePod works especially well if you have a subscription to music service Apple Music. If you are one of the millions of Spotify users, you can only stream music to the speaker via AirPlay . However, AirPlay still has some drawbacks, so the music stops abruptly if you want to record a video with your iPhone, which also sends music to the HomePod.
Because Siri does not support Spotify (or any music service other than Apple Music), the HomePod does not listen if you want to play a different song on Spotify. You will have to arrange all this via an AirPlay-linked device. If you are a Spotify subscriber, then the HomePod is nothing more than an AirPlay speaker with good sound.
The HomePod Deserves Better
And that is a shame, because by giving Siri a permanent place in your living room, there is potentially much potential. For example, you can switch on and off with HomeKit-connected lamps, set a timer or ask what the weather will be tomorrow. The HomePod listens best of all Apple products to someone who calls ‘Hé Siri’.
Even when you play music, Siri knows how to recognize your call and you can immediately give a voice command. This allows you to ask Siri all kinds of questions while you are sitting on the couch, which lowers the threshold to use the assistant. So let’s hope that Apple will quickly come up with the necessary Siri improvements. That would make the HomePod a lot better right away.
If you are a member of Apple Music, you can set up a song, change playlists or change the volume without touching an iPhone or iPad. And admittedly, it’s pretty cool to bring your whole house to life with ‘Hey Siri, turn on the lights and play some Radiohead’ .
The HomePod is more than ever a product that is meant for people who have everything from Apple. If you have some HomeKit products, are you a member of Apple Music and you are not planning to exchange your iPhone for an Android, then the HomePod is an excellent addition to your Apple collection. Especially for the price of $ 350, which is not even that much more expensive than high-end speakers with comparable audio quality.
Conclusion HomePod Review
The sound quality of the HomePod is good enough that we would like to recommend it to every music lover. But because of the limited Siri functions and other restrictions that Apple has imposed, you can not blindly bring a HomePod into your home. Now you will have to consider how important you think Siri is, and whether you are willing to switch to Apple Music. And that’s a shame, because first and foremost, the HomePod is an excellent sounding speaker, which takes listening to music to a higher level.
Note: The HomePod is not yet available in the Netherlands at the time of writing. If you purchase a HomePod now, Siri will not speak Dutch and you will need a separate plug to plug the speaker into the socket. For more information, check out our guide with tips for buying a HomePod abroad .