This is the Apple HomePod. About a week and a half ago, I gave you my unboxing and overall first impressions of this brand new smart speaker from Apple. And now I’m ready to give you my overall review and thoughts about this $350 smart speaker. So let’s go ahead and get started.
So aesthetically, the Apple HomePod is a very small speaker. It’s about the size of 1.5 Amazon Echos. It’s not very big at all, takes very little counter space-- you can have it on your kitchen, in a bedroom, or a living room. It really does blend and has this awesome 3D fabric mesh that’s pretty soft and mushy all around the HomePod so it, overall, is a very aesthetically pleasing object to look at in the middle of a room or side of a room on a bookshelf.
It’s also quite dense and heavy. It’s definitely a very heavy speaker, a lot heavier than any Echo product that Amazon has made. Not quite as heavy as the Google Home Max but you kind of get the point. It’s a dense little object. It’s cylindrical and weird but it’s sounds absolutely amazing. There is a 360-degree array of tweeters and one sub facing upwards. And this may not be the loudest smart speaker you can buy but it is definitely the most clear smart speaker you can buy today, especially at $350.
So it’s made for interaction with its user’s voice and that means it uses Siri because, well, it is Apple. If I want to talk to my HomePod, all I have to say is “Hey Siri” and it turns on.
You can touch and tap the top of the HomePod. It’s basically activate to play, pause, or volume up/down. You can also control the HomePod via your iPhone or iOS device. And the great thing about this thing is that the setup is absolutely seamless if you have an iOS product. This is the same W1 chip that the AirPods use so it pops right up when you turn it on and set it up. It asks a couple of questions and there you go. The downside is, if you don’t have an iOS product, you can’t have the HomePod. There is absolutely zero way to set that up, even though Apple Music is currently available on the Android Play Store.
I definitely can’t say enough how good the HomePod sounds. It’s definitely the best smart speaker I’ve ever used but there are a lot of downsides and incompleteness of the HomePod at its current state. Maybe down the line, it’ll be a better product. But let me go ahead and talk to you about some of the little quirks and things that just clearly and plainly don’t work with today’s Apple HomePod.
So first of all, you can’t use Spotify. There are 70 million subscribers to Spotify, myself included. And natively, you can’t ask the HomePod to play music directly from Spotify. It’s Apple Music or bust. You can AirPlay Spotify to your HomePod through your iPhone or Mac or whatever but you can’t use Spotify natively like you can do on a Google Home Max or the Echo products.
Secondly, you can’t make any phone calls through the HomePod even though it’s connected to your iPhone almost 24/7. It makes no sense that Siri can’t do that. I mean, I can do that from my iPad from my iPhone but I can’t do it on the HomePod.
Number three for me is you can’t link multiple HomePods together yet with AirPlay 2 you will be able to. But we have no idea when that will be coming out. They just say sometime later this year. That can mean December 2018 or it can mean tomorrow. But today, you can’t do it on the brand new HomePod, which still makes this thing a very incomplete package.
Now Siri is definitely getting better as an assistant. I don’t think it’s as good as the Google Assistant or as quite as useful and integrated as the Echo Assistant or Alexa. But HomePod in Siri-- it’s just a weird thing. Siri is incomplete on the HomePod. It’s not quite as able as the Siri you have on your iPad or iPhone. This thing is almost like handicapped on the HomePod. And it’s just-- I don’t know how to describe it. The HomePod is one of the most (if not, the most) incomplete product that Apple has ever made and you’ll hear about that in a lot of these reviews. The HomePod is incomplete. It’s not ready to ship even though Apple shipped it about 1.5 weeks ago for $350.
And to be completely honest with you, I do understand the product of a HomePod. Apple really does want you to be in the Apple ecosystem. And honestly, the ideal HomePod customer is someone that obviously uses an iPhone or an iPad, someone that obviously uses Apple Music as their only music service, and is wanting an at-home speaker. You do have the ability to connect with HomeKit and stuff to turn on your lights or change your AC, if you have an Echo Bear or something. But other than that, the HomePod is quite limited as a smart device. I honestly wish you can use this strictly as a speaker but there is no 3.5mm auxiliary port. You can’t actually use this as a Bluetooth speaker either. So if you have an Android phone or something, you can’t use this as a Bluetooth over-the-air speaker. You can only AirPlay things to the HomePod.
So those are a lot of downsides with the Apple HomePod. And honestly, for $350, I honestly can’t recommend this thing to anyone; especially because it’s very incomplete. Maybe down the line when AirPlay 2 is out, maybe it’ll add Spotify support. I highly doubt that but hopefully you can add Bluetooth streaming with AirPlay 2. Who knows? But at this current state, unless you’re a die-hard Apple user that’s completely invested in the ecosystem. I mean, I’m very Apple-centric. I use a Mac, have an iPhone, Apple TV; but I’m not an Apple Music subscriber because I just don’t like their interface. I’m a huge Spotify user because I can use it on an Android phone, an iPhone, and I just love the interface of Spotify ten times more than Apple Music and I’ll probably never switch over.
So if you are an Apple Music subscriber and you’re looking for a smart speaker… I can’t really blame this thing. It is the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy right now. I just wouldn’t buy one. I honestly wouldn’t buy one. I can’t recommend anyone that I personally know to go buy a HomePod because honestly, most people want to listen to music-- good quality listening, they’ll have headphones. They’ll have high-end headphones or amps or something like that. For me, I just want the ease of use of having an assistant. I’m a huge Amazon shopper so for me Echos are honestly the only product I can ever see myself use. And hopefully one day, their audio quality will match the audio quality in the HomePod.