Apple officially released a HomePod intelligent orator behind in February, that means it has now spent over 6 months on a marketplace and 6 months in a hands of consumers like myself.
The HomePod has been one of a many polarizing Apple product releases in new memory, with many praising a sound peculiarity and formation with a Apple ecosystem, though many also knocking it for a high cost and underline relation to inclination like a Amazon Echo.
I was an definite HomePod doubter during first, though over a final 6 months, it has turn a arguable and constituent partial of my intelligent home setup.
Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip
The early, not-so-honeymoon-like phase
Usually when we buy a new Apple product, there’s an early duration of time that’s like a honeymoon proviso of a new relationship; a lust and aura of a newness outshines any flaws. With a HomePod, however, my knowledge was maybe a accurate opposite.
I clearly remember a unboxing and setup routine on day one with a HomePod. After environment it up, we was tender immediately by a sound quality, though it was scarcely unfit to omit a gaping miss of AirPlay 2. Sure, one HomePod sounded great, though a 2-second loiter with AirPlay and miss of stereo/multi-room support was unfit to overlook.
It was during this duration where we questioned a HomePod and a worthiness of a cost tag. we had dual Sonos One speakers, set adult in stereo mode, around my iMac – and that was a good knowledge in terms of sound. With Sonos’ guarantee of AirPlay 2 support – and a some-more opposite lineup of speakers – it was tough to repudiate a advantages over Apple.
Of course, there were areas where a HomePod excelled in comparison to Sonos. Its formation with a rest of Apple’s ecosystem, HomeKit control, and pattern being a few of them. Still, we debated either or not those positives outweighed a many negatives…
AirPlay 2 and expanding a family
Sure enough, AirPlay 2 would eventually come and I’d do roughly a full 180 grade change in opinion.
Almost 3 months after a HomePod’s initial release, Apple pushed iOS 11.4 with AirPlay 2 support. At a time of AirPlay 2’s release, we had a singular HomePod – meaning we couldn’t take advantage of facilities like multi-room and stereo. Sure enough, my co-worker Zac Hall had several HomePods and was prepared to exam AirPlay on day one, and fast assured me to join a club.
So, we motionless to sell my stereo Sonos One setup and supplement an additional HomePod – thus carrying a stereo HomePod setup around my iMac. You don’t indispensably cruise that stereo is going to make a outrageous disproportion in real-world use – but it unequivocally does. Going from a singular HomePod (or even dual HomePods setup in pseudo-stereo mode) to a loyal stereo HomePod knowledge is remarkable.
And that’s as it should be. At $350 a cocktail – $700 for a full stereo knowledge – the HomePod is costly and adult there in cost with some of a many high-end audio brands. And we cruise it does usually adequate to aver that cost tag, during slightest from a sound peculiarity perspective.
In time, Sonos has added AirPlay 2 support to a speakers, as well – and that’s a outrageous ascent compared to carrying to use a Sonos app on iOS and macOS.
Perhaps some-more than any other Apple product, a HomePod is far, distant from perfect. While things have gotten dramatically improved over a final several months, there are still so many ways Apple can – and needs to – improve a intelligent speaker.
While a HomePod’s formation with a Apple ecosystem is generally excellent, a friendship with macOS – outside of iTunes – is weak. You can’t select a HomePod stereo span as a complement audio output, with macOS instead saying both speakers in a stereo span as people – sincerely tying stereo support outward of iTunes.
I mentioned progressing that Sonos offers a some-more opposite lineup of intelligent speakers than Apple does, though a doubt is either or not Apple cares. While some rough reports have suggested that Apple has a “cheaper” HomePod planned, there’s no plain justification to advise such a thing.
I also consternation if a “cheaper” HomePod is indispensably a answer. I’d be some-more meddlesome in saying opposite form factors – such as a soundbar or a incomparable Play:5-like design. While some form factors would inherently be cheaper than a stream HomePod, I’d rather see Apple concentration on glorious sound peculiarity in opposite form factors (soundbar?) rather than removing a cost as low as possible.
Another probability that competence palliate a blow in terms of cost is to offer ignored pricing for stereo HomePod pairs. As we mentioned earlier, we now have to bombard out some $700 to buy dual HomePods. Apple could make this somewhat some-more acceptable by discounting a two-pack cost to something like $600 or even $650. We’ve seen companies like Sonos do this, and it usually creates clarity for Apple to do a same.
One some-more thing to cruise is how a initial few months of HomePod accessibility influenced a open notice of a device. In lacking facilities like multi-room, stereo, and other AirPlay 2 improvements, there’s an evidence to be done that Apple might have significantly hindered HomePod sales as competitors like Sonos offering many of those features.
It comes behind to a overarching thesis of holding time to launch a “perfect” product, or rising a half-baked product and improving it over time with program updates. we won’t get into that here, though we cruise Apple would have been distant improved off watchful until AirPlay 2 was prepared to recover HomePod in a initial place.
In a stream form, a HomePod is a good orator and a good apparatus for determining a intelligent home. Notice we didn’t contend it was a good “smart speaker.” As it stands right now, we can get some-more intelligent – and some-more affordable – intelligent speakers from companies like Amazon. The HomePod, of course, integrates with a Apple ecosystem in an rare way, and offers higher sound peculiarity to scarcely any intelligent orator out there, though it lacks in comprehension when compared to a Alexa devices.
As time progresses, Apple will positively continue to enhance a HomePod’s underline set. We’ve already heard that iOS 12 will move new features such as mixed timers, phone call support, and more. Beyond new program features, a destiny of a HomePod is unclear. Is there room in a marketplace for incompatible form factors? Absolutely. But does Apple caring about catering to those incompatible needs? Only time will tell.
What do we cruise about HomePod 6 months after a initial release? Has it found a place in your home or have we incited to other intelligent orator offerings? Let us know down in a comments!