There have been several delays with the HomePod, and at least 6 months of teasing from Apple. But it’s finally here! The HomePod isn’t your typical Apple product. In fact, it’s the first wireless smart speaker that Apple has ever made. If I’m being honest, Apple is at a bit of a disadvantage with this product, since the market is dominated by the Amazon Echo and even the Google Home. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their own product, it just means it’s going to be a tough sell for Apple. What makes it so special? What can it even do? And should you buy it? These are all the questions that I aim to answer for you.
HomePod is a wireless “smart” speaker. Once you’ve set it up using your iPhone or iPad, you can control HomePod using your voice. HomePod works with Apple Music, iTunes purchases (including Family Sharing ones), iCloud Music Library and iTunes Match. So as long as you’ve got your music in those places, you can just say “Hey Siri play…” and HomePod will just start playing.
What is it?
The HomePod is a really good wireless speaker for listening to music. Like any Apple product, it’s the hardware that’s the most fascinating. Apple has a 7 tweeter array, 6 microphones for Siri and a big, down-firing subwoofer – all jammed into a 7” cylinder. There is also a special microphone in the middle that’s just used for regulating the bass. The HomePod has a textured exterior. On the top, there’s a touch-sensitive display. It can’t display information, but you can control playback and volume by tapping on it.
What Makes it Cool?
Well, it’s a bit different from the other wireless speakers on the market. The HomePod uses an A8 chip (which is the same as the one found in the iPhone 6) and has1 GB of RAM. The HomePod has a built-in accelerometer and a whole system where it scans the room and adjusts the sound every time it’s moved. Which means, no matter where you put your HomePod, it’s going to fill the room with amazing sound.
But is it Good?
Apple has been telling everyone how incredible the sound quality is. And you should believe them. In fact, every reviewer and every critic seems to agree that the sound is amazing. Speakers are designed for playing music, but HomePod is the best in its class. In fact, it sounds better than any of the Echo products, or the Google Home. Only the Sonos Play 1 comes close to being comparable.
What about Spotify?
I mentioned that it works with Apple Music – obviously. But what about Spotify? Because Siri only supports Apple Music, you can’t use Siri to play music from Spotify or any other streaming service. But HomePod does support AirPlay, which means you can AirPlay the Spotify Music from your iOS device to your HomePod. When doing this, you can use Siri for simple commands like play and pause, but that’s about it. This is a huge limitation, so if you’re not an Apple Music subscriber, this might not be the device for you.
Is That it?
Here are some other things that Siri will let you do with your HomePod:
Control your smart home devices: Siri can control any of your smart home devices that are connected via HomeKit. Just ask Siri to turn off the lights or change the temperature for devices that you’ve already added to the Home app.
Personal Requests: HomePod has a feature called Personal Requests which lets you read and reply to your messages, take notes and add reminders.
Apple Podcasts: You can also play any podcasts from Apple Podcasts service. As it to play the latest episode from your favorite podcasts. Just like Apple Music, HomePod doesn’t support third-party podcasts clients like Overcast or Pocket Casts.
The News: Just like Siri on the iPhone, HomePod will tell you the day’s news. When you ask HomePod “Hey Siri, what’s the news today?”, you’ll hear news briefings from reputable sources.
We know that the intent of the HomePod was to truly integrate it into the Apple ecosystem. Which is what this does. But does it do it in a way that limits it’s ability elsewhere? Yes, and no. I think for someone like myself, I wouldn’t benefit from what the HomePod can offer. Yes, I use Apple devices, but I don’t subscribe to Apple Music. In fact, I don’t even use Apple Podcasts anymore. So if you utilize other tools – like Spotify or Overcast, you’re not going to get the most out of this home speaker. I think when it comes to home speakers, it’s a personal preference, based on the apps and other devices you’re using.