Universal praise of the HomePod, which will be available Friday for $349, was about its sound quality, with reviewers saying it is by far the best-sounding speaker in the market.
If you're on the fence about HomePod and wondering whether to audition it at an Apple Store or your own home this weekend, here are a handful of helpful details that will put this new speaker in some perspective. "Seriously." when Apple Music launched in 2015.
Apple's decision to restrict HomePod customersto iOS and Apple Music is a strategic effort to keep peopleembedded in its ecosystem.
"Despite these limitations, we expect the product to be extremely popular". There's no remote control, and no audio input port - just an integrated, fabric-covered power cable.
With the Apple HomePod seemingly struggling to compete with the other two speakers on an even footing, it is important to emphasize at this point that this speaker does have its advantages in the Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home war. Amazon and Google's options work with both Android and Apple. The HomePod does have features the Amazon Echo or Google Home don't, such as the ability to play podcasts at a faster speed or use voice to send iMessages and WhatsApp texts, according to Buzzfeed's Nicole Nguyen. The HomePod is also able to detect its position in a room by sending sound beams in all directions and detecting when and where the beams are bounced back from a wall in a sound test that lasts 10 seconds, according to the Verge. Siri also allows users to control HomeKit smart home accessories. First swipe down to access Control Center, then long-press the AirPlay button in the upper right corner of the music widget. But it must be said that the Amazon device delivers the best AI capabilities. The Google Home Max also comes with the Voice Match feature, which personalizes Google Assistant information based on the person in the household. It is capable of making calls, controlling smart home accessories, providing travel information, translating words into multiple languages, looking up recipes, offering nutrition guidance, answering trivia questions, looking up stocks, and telling jokes.
A number of features have yet to arrive before HomePod feels feature-complete.
Again, Apple's insistence on forcing its users into its walled garden limits the device's appeal (you better make sure you're ready to cough up for an Apple Music subscription to get the most out of the HomePod, for example). CEO Tim Cook even misspoke during Apple's recent earnings call when he said that you could summon Siri on HomePod to hail a Lyft or Uber.
You'll similarly be able to balance two HomePods next to each other for a complete stereo effect but must wait for a free software update from Apple coming later in the year. And it's an acknowledgement that, like it or not, there are going to be multiple parties in this space.
Two weeks ago, Apple invited me to a "listening party" for its new HomePod speaker in downtown Manhattan.
A smarter Siri: A smart speaker is only as smart as its digital assistant. Alert Siri and let the HomePod do the work.
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