Apple's first attempt at smart speaker is finally hitting shelves tomorrow, and as is customary the tech site reviews have come in.
And based on those reviews, I have some thoughts on the HomePod and whether its a worthy buy or not.
The consensus around the HomePod is that it's an incredible speaker and that should be no surprise. Music has always been an important cornerstone of Apple's DNA and if the HomePod had been anything less than stellar, it would have been a huge disappointment. But, it seems that's about all the HomePod is.
The general consensus is that it's not very good at doing anything else, though.
Some of the knocks:
- No ability to detect different voices (which is weird because the iPhone can do it)
- Siri is siri, which means it's not very good at a lot of things
- You're tied into the Apple ecosystem and can only use Apple Music
Apple is known for entering markets late, but they usually blow everything available out of the water when they do. That doesn't seem to be the case here. The HomePod even seems half baked to me, despite the fact it was delayed. If they expected to compete with Alexa and Google Home, this doesn't do it. Yes, it looks and sounds great, but Apple is basically charging a premium for a smart speaker that is pretty dumb.
As someone who has a Google Home and is pretty happy with it, I need the HomePod to do more. As someone who rarely uses Siri, Google has all of my assistant attention. I enjoy asking for random information, getting traffic updates, hearing my schedule and the news with relative ease. It's not the greatest sounding speaker, but it's good enough. Until Apple decides to open up the HomePod to other services, I just can't justify it's purchase. Unless, I come across a large inheritance.
Ultimately, if you don't care about the "Smart" portion of these speakers or are an Apple Music subscriber, the HomePod seems like a no brainer.
Unfortunately, it just doesn't work for me.
As far as in depth review go, The Verge's Nilay Patel has what is likely the most comprehensive HomePod review out there. Techcrunch's Matthew Panzarino has a much shorter, (4 sentences, with appendices) HomePod review that is worth your time as well.