In mid 2017, Apple announced the HomePod at its WWDC Keynote. It’s the company’s first smart speaker with Siri and enters the market rather late in the game when compared to the Google Home, which was released in late 2016 and the Amazon Echo, which was announced in late 2014 and released in early 2015.
The HomePod is available in two colors-- white and space gray. Aside from the HomePod branding on the front of the box, the only other text is on the very bottom of the box itself. Here we’re going to find some specifications. It features Siri, has seven horn-loaded tweeters, high excursion woofer, eight amplifiers, six microphone array, audio beamforming 802.11 AC, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0.
All we have to do to remove the plastic is lift up on the pull tab and we’ll see the plastic fold away from the box in a beautiful fashion. The entire unboxing experience is very Apple-esque. It is truly a work of art. The top portion of the box slides off revealing the HomePod inside. If we lift the HomePod up and out of the box, we’ll see the white braided AC power cord attached to the speaker. If you get the space gray variant, this cable will be black to match the speaker. Underneath, there’s a packet that says “Designed by Apple in California.” And inside is a Get Started Guide, some warranty information, and an Apple sticker.
As you can see, my HomePod is the white variant. Since the entire outer shell consists of fabric, there’s potential for it to pick up dirt and get damaged by the sun over time. If that’s a concern for you, you might be better off picking up the space gray variant because it is basically all black.
The HomePod itself is about the size of a baby watermelon or cantaloupe and it weighs about as much as one of those melons. It weighs 5.5 lbs.
The setup process cannot be any simpler. All you have to do is power on your iPhone nearby the HomePod and a menu will pop up prompting you to set it up. After you tap on setup, then you can select the room your HomePod will reside in. Apple will then try and sell you a subscription to Apple Music because that is the only music streaming service that will work natively with the HomePod.
Next comes Personal Requests. This will allow anyone to use this HomePod to send and read messages, add reminders, create notes, and more with this iPhone when it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Since HomePod cannot differentiate users by their voices like other smart speakers, if you enable this, your account will be relatively unsecure.
Next comes Terms and Conditions that you’ll have to agree to. Finally, we have Accounts and Settings. Apple will use your iCloud account, Wi-Fi and settings on your iPhone to configure your HomePod.
Once that is all completed, Siri will then come alive in your HomePod and ask you to ask her what she can do. Siri is able to turn on some smart home appliances, read the news, check the weather, and play music. And that’s about it. The HomePod is very limited in what kind of commands it can perform when you compare it to the Google Home and Amazon Echo.
With that said, the HomePod has put most of its emphasis on music and sound quality. Apple has spent years developing this speaker and for its size, it really does pack a punch. It really does sound excellent. The first thing that struck me was the strong, punchy bass that’s strong enough to literally shake my table.
I’m going to spend some time listening to music and dishing that voice commands to Siri to see how this speaker performs overall.