The Apple HomePod has been on the market for a little over a week now and saying it’s a bit unintelligent is pretty fitting. Apple decided to enter the smart home speaker market late in the game but it had to carry all of its Apple-strict and almost required restrictions to be a true Apple product. I’m sure you’ve heard of other videos but prepare for it again: the HomePod requires an iPhone or any iOS device. You basically can’t really use the HomePod without an Apple iOS device. It uses the same Apple W1 chip as your AirPods for setup, which makes it seamless but Apple-only.
Siri is the only way to interact with the HomePod the way it was intended to. So you’ll have to be okay with an assistant that is really at the bottom of the totem pole of intelligence. And the biggest gripe with the HomePod is that you basically have to be an Apple Music subscriber to get the darn thing to work the way it’s supposed to. So if you use Spotify like me, then you’re out of luck using this as a true smart speaker.
So Apple basically created this thing for Apple customers not just general customers. You must be tied and completely embracive of all things Apple. But you know what, Apple doesn’t really seem to care about that. That’s who they created this product for and the hardcore Apple customers won’t really mind the quirks and realize how amazing of a product the HomePod truly is.
Even with all the downsides of the HomePod is facing, the most important quality of the speaker is, well, the speaker. And more specifically, the sound quality coming out. The HomePod is, by far, the best sounding at-home smart speaker you can pick up today. It’s plenty louder and clearer than any Echo product has ever been but not quite as loud or distorted as the Google Home Max.
The way I would describe the HomePod is clinical: it sounds as if you were wearing a pair of open back headphones tuned specifically for a mutual response. So if you are looking for Beats style music quality, then look elsewhere. The bass isn’t impressive and the sub actually faces upwards. But its 360-degree array of tweeters that detect itself in space and the solid objects around it to shape the sound is honestly the best sounding thing Apple has ever made. The microphone pick up is also really good. Even when you have music playing at max volumes, it’s very clear and you don’t have to raise your voice to activate the HomePod.
As I said before, the HomePod is the best sounding smart speaker available by a long way in my opinion. Also it’s very tiny, a lot smaller than you’d ever think. Maybe the size of two Amazon Echos 2nd generation. However, my experience with it is far from the best. Like I’ve mentioned, Siri is okay on iPhones but is complete garbage on the Apple HomePod. First of all, it’s unable to detect multiple voices. Anyone can activate HomePod and if you have personal requests enabled, anyone can read your messages and send responses at will.
Currently, it’s only able to work independently. Meaning if you have two Apple HomePods, you can’t link them together for true stereo or surround sound to have even more. Also, Spotify is plainly unsupported on the Apple HomePod. You can play music through via an AirPlay speaker basically connecting it through your Spotify app and you do have the ability to say “Play”, “Pause”, “Next”, or “Back”. But that’s about it. You can’t specifically ask Siri to tell you or play you a song right from the Spotify playlist. You have to link it to Apple Music.
So overall, my experience with HomePod is extremely mixed. Best in class sound quality with worst in class software and assistance experience. So would I recommend it? Personally, no. Right now, the sound quality just isn’t enough to outweigh the frustrations usability-wise. And until HomePod works with Spotify natively, I’ll just stick to my worse sounding Amazon Echo and be completely okay with that and the extra $207 I get to keep in my pocket.