- Apple’s smart speaker, the HomePod, goes on sale on Friday.
- Early reviewers liked the device’s sound quality but criticised its Siri features and its incompatibility with Android and Spotify.
- The HomePod is significantly more expensive than competing products from Amazon and Google.
People who preordered Apple’s smart speaker, the HomePod, will receive them Friday.
If you’re still on the fence, the early reviews may not persuade you to buy the $US350 iPhone speaker.
Early reviewers focused on high-quality sound, impressive bass, incomplete Siri integration, and overall incompatibility with Spotify and Android phones in a series of reviews published Tuesday.
Here’s what the critics are saying about Apple’s newest product:
The New York Times’ Brian Chen — “tough to recommend”
The bottom line: “But Siri on HomePod is embarrassingly inadequate, even though that is the primary way you interact with it. Siri is sorely lacking in capabilities compared with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Siri doesn’t even work as well on HomePod as it does on the iPhone.”
The Verge’s Nilay Patel — “you’re better served by other smart speakers”
The bottom line: “You can’t ask Siri to look up a recipe. You can’t ask Siri to make a phone call. (You have to start the phone call on your phone and transfer it to the HomePod to use it as a just-ok speakerphone.) Siri also can’t compete with the huge array of Alexa skills, or Google Assistant’s ability to answer a vast variety of questions.”
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino — “If you don’t like Apple Music, don’t buy a HomePod.”
The bottom line: “But if you own an iPhone, an Apple Music subscription and at least one HomeKit device, then you are the target market for a fantastic sounding $US349 speaker that works best with all of that stuff.”
BuzzFeed’s Nicole Nguyen — “It looks and feels Expensive.”
The bottom line: “But HomePod, like the audio vacuum it was tested and developed in, exists in a silo that doesn’t seem to take into account how people actually use smart speakers. It works supremely well within Apple’s orbit, but not outside of that. The HomePod’s software, in its current iteration, doesn’t work where many people live – on Android phones or in Spotify – and that keeps a good smart speaker from being a great one.”
The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple — “HomePod offered so much more quality that it was quite literally laughable to hear the others.'”
The bottom line: “HomePod is smart, it looks great, and it sounds incredible. I don’t know what else you would want in a home smart speaker.”
The Telegraph’s James Titcomb — “feels a little underpowered”
The bottom line: “But when it comes to the number of features available on other smart speakers, it feels a little underpowered. The question is whether that trade-off is worth it. Having spent a week with the HomePod, my honest answer is: it depends.”
USA Today’s Edward Baig — “can be an exercise in frustration at times”
The bottom line: “At the same time, the new speaker can be an exercise in frustration at times, especially when you request something of Siri that Apple’s digital assistant can’t deliver on HomePod. In answering to your “Hey Siri” vocal commands, Apple’s assistant can perform many of the same table-stakes tasks as Amazon’s Alexa on Echo’s or the Google Assistant on Google Home speakers – from setting timers and reminders to informing you of the weather and traffic, turning on smart lights, or solving maths.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern — “HomePod nails the speaker but struggles at smart.”
The bottom line: “If you’re an Apple Music user, the HomePod is the best matching speaker. There is a very close second though. The Sonos One now comes with Alexa, and Google Assistant is expected to arrive this year …
“It really comes down to what you want your speaker to do. If you want the smartest smart speaker, this isn’t it. But if you prize music above everything else, the HomePod isn’t a dumb choice.”