Review: HomePod today, tomorrow, and over might not be a same intelligent speaker

We are now one month out given HomePod was released, and I’ve been regulating Apple’s intelligent orator each day given it launched. First on a highway while traveling, afterwards during home with a accumulation of other intelligent speakers.

My thoughts on HomePod have shifted over that period, though my pivotal takeaway is this: HomePod is a best intelligent orator for Apple Music subscribers in a Apple ecosystem, though a knowledge needs to develop before it’s prepared for a masses.

The bottom line for me is that we unequivocally suffer regulating HomePod myself — for hours during a time each day — though we wouldn’t present HomePod (or any other intelligent speaker) to a family member usually yet. HomePod usually isn’t that candid yet. Apple Watch crossed a family accessible threshold for me with chronicle two, and AirPods were gift-worthy from day one for comparison.

HomePod instead feels some-more like a fourth era Apple TV. That product debuted with new capabilities like Siri control and an app platform, though took a few program updates over several months to feel closer to finish with a correct remote app and simple facilities like dictating content in hunt boxes and app folders.

HomePod has a lot of that low unresolved fruit usually watchful to be picked — not to discuss vital underline additions that could dramatically urge a knowledge for mainstream business — all though requiring new hardware.


9to5Mac Happy Hour

Today

HomePod now is a ideally able home strain orator for Apple Music or iTunes Match subscribers and iTunes Music Store customers. You simply can’t use voice to call adult strain acquired by Apple and entirely control it on any other intelligent speaker, and HomePod’s sound peculiarity is subjectively considerable for a size.

You can play Apple Music by Sonos speakers and use voice to conduct volume and play/pause with a right configuration, though Apple usually lets Siri control Apple Music and it isn’t putting Siri in third-party speakers today.

In terms of audio quality, we like a HomePod sound improved than that of a cheaper Sonos Play:1 ($149) or voice-controlled Sonos One ($199) though HomePod ($349) doesn’t tip a audio outlay of a pricier Sonos Play:5 ($499) for me. But we am a lot some-more expected to indeed play my Apple Music library with HomePod than Sonos Play:5 given voice is a some-more accessible controller than an app.

A post common by Zac Hall (@apollozac) on Feb 15, 2018 during 7:19pm PST

Prior to HomePod, my home audio setup consisted of churned Sonos Play:1 and Sonos One speakers, and a stereo span of Sonos Play:5 speakers.

I deliberate gripping a Sonos complement in place, generally a Sonos Play:5 stereo pair, regulating HomePod as a bland speaker, and Sonos as a resolution for when we unequivocally wish to hear a best audio; though a disproportion for me is not good adequate to aver doing churned systems, so a Sonos complement is going and HomePod is staying — one in a kitchen that covers several rooms, and one in my bureau on a other side of my house.

A complement like Sonos might be a improved fit for Spotify users, though I’m not peaceful to give adult voice-controlled strain in a automobile or strain streaming over mobile during runs with my Apple Watch. Other intelligent speakers also miss facilities that we conclude like Apple Podcasts playback and HomeKit control.

HomePod is hands-down a best intelligent orator for me, though that’s not to contend HomePod lives adult to a full intensity yet.

Plenty of initial reviews have been created about HomePod closer to a recover — we dull adult a initial call here, newer ones embody Jason Snell during Six Colors and Ryan Christoffel during MacStoriesand Benjamin Mayo and we talked by a initial impressions for three hours on part 160 of a 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast — so I’ll try to be apparent and not extensive here.

After a full month of use, I’m left with a few pivotal impressions of what shines with HomePod and where a hurdles exist. On a certain side:

  • Siri can be really manageable from bedrooms away, when shrill strain is playing, or when vocalization sensitively if shrill strain is not personification — a audio ducking outcome when Siri is listening is a good hold (and usually relates to music, not podcasts, when played directly)

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A post common by Zac Hall (@apollozac) on Feb 13, 2018 during 11:25am PST

  • Sound peculiarity does not disappoint, churned knowledge in some instances, though generally acceptable opening — improved than Sonos One, not as good as Sonos Play:5
  • AirPods-like set adult is a zephyr in a right conditions (i.e. during home and Wi-Fi that requires device-specific credentials)

HomePod Setup 1 HomePod Setup 2 HomePod Setup 3

  • Apple’s Home app has a training bend though encourages HomeKit use
  • HomePod is a usually intelligent orator with voice control of Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, HomeKit, and iCloud Notes Reminders

AirPlay playback from iOS contra proceed playback tranquil from iOS

  • HomePod can be tranquil from Music app on iOS, iTunes on macOS — Sonos app style, though AirPlay — this wasn’t apparent to me during initial though really useful if voice control isn’t as fit for we as browsing a catalog

HomePod also has a hurdles and stipulations that we usually can’t equivocate today:

  • Siri on HomePod is identical to Siri on Apple TV in that it specializes in some commands and usually can’t hoop others that iPhone can — this mostly shows given HomePod will frequently respond to tasks it can’t hoop (and Siri on Apple Watch will always take a ask if a arrangement is lit) — a one Siri knowledge would go a prolonged way
  • Apple is holding a one-size-fits-all proceed to start with HomePod, dual HomePods interconnected will really sound improved for incomparable bedrooms when stereo is supported, and we still find that a unstable Bluetooth orator that plays audio out shrill and can go room to room or outward has a place in my audio kit

  • No multi-user support for churned strain libraries on a same Family Sharing devise is a pain, no calendar entrance given Echo can entrance iCloud calendar is a mystery, and a ability to trigger and respond to recently sent messages though not trigger phone calls though Handoff is an peculiar choice
  • The stream Now Playing user interface for doing churned HomePods does not scale well, generally if we have a few Apple TVs

  • Finally, there’s a bug that doesn’t let we control podcast playback Sonos app character though voice or AirPlay — nonetheless HomePod can play podcasts natively, initiating proceed podcast playback on HomePod from macOS works for strain though fails for podcasts

HomePod AirPlay 4 HomePod AirPlay 3 HomePod AirPlay 1

HomePod after this year should mature into a improved intelligent speaker, though we should always buy record formed on what’s accessible now and not what’s betrothed in a future. Shipping opening could vary, and skeleton could always change.

With that being said, Apple promises dual facilities that will advantage HomePod business with dual or some-more speakers someday this year: stereo and AirPlay 2.

Stereo playback will let we span dual HomePods together in a left and right pattern (you can arrange of penetrate this with AirPlay from iTunes now though we remove a lot of what creates HomePod smart) for doubling your sound outlay and carrying a some-more normal stereo experience.

AirPlay 2 will let we use Siri to play a same audio on churned AirPlay 2 speakers including HomePod, or authority Siri to play opposite audio on specific AirPlay 2 speakers in opposite rooms.

We can also pretty design that destiny program updates to HomePod will supplement bug fixes and improvements — and maybe even new facilities — though no promises.

While HomePod handles a singular ability set good today, there’s a lot of event for new facilities that would dramatically urge a product in a future. People generally wish some-more audio sources to be directly playable (like Spotify and Overcast) and some-more comprehension from Siri (like doing multiple, named timers), and both are totally stream requests.

But even if you’re like me and use all of a services Apple wants we to use for a best HomePod experience, there are still facilities left to be desired. One has to consider that a lot of these requests contingency be on a roadmap after stereo and AirPlay 2.

For example, HomePod is managed in a Home app alongside HomeKit accessories and it acts as a HomeKit controller and heart for automations and remote access, though we can’t bond Apple Music to HomeKit scenes or automations.

Saying “Hey Siri, good morning” and carrying your lights spin on and a specific playlist or hire play would be a vital differentiator for HomePod compared to other intelligent speakers.

The ability to set a specific strain (or playlist) as your alarm would also be welcome. HomePod can hoop churned named alarms, though they all use a same tinge and can’t be customized with music, distinct iPhone.

As an aside, regulating a stream doing of alarms has turn a diversion with HomePod and my five-year-old daughter. When we name an alarm, possibly by Siri or a Home app, HomePod will warning we with a alarm tinge and review a alarm name aloud on repeat. My daughter seeking Siri to set a “3 p.m. poo poo conduct alarm” that creates HomePod carillon and contend “poo poo head” on repeat is now usually something we have to accept. 😂

HomePod is good for Apple Music and Apple Podcasts playback, though it could be an glorious audiobook actor too. Apple offers audiobooks by iBooks, though these now do not sync play swell between inclination and they can’t be streamed directly from HomePod. The stream workaround for audiobook fans is to play an audiobook from a iPhone, afterwards AirPlay it to HomePod. This works okay, though loyal audiobook playback should be on a roadmap.

And finally, there’s one Amazon Alexa underline that we wish HomePod would steal: customizable daily recaps. For example, we can ask Alexa what’s adult and be served your schedule, internal weather, and a array of brief audio sources like newscasts and podcasts that we name in a terrible Alexa app.

HomePod lets we ask for a continue and specific news categories separately, though we can’t emanate a whole outline from one command.

For some-more on doing HomePod with iOS 11.2.5 today:

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Summary

In closing, my wish for HomePod as a patron is that it is not a same intelligent orator in a year’s time as it is today. There is copiousness to adore about HomePod now that Apple can build on, though my affinity for it now leans heavily on my confidence that Apple will build out facilities in a nearby future.

We already know about stereo and AirPlay 2 given they were betrothed on day one and are shipping late, though HomePod is a box where Apple could substantially share destiny program skeleton for a product and indeed benefit.

2018 contra 2006

A post common by Zac Hall (@apollozac) on Feb 12, 2018 during 4:28pm PST

Not distinct my co-worker Michael Steeber, I’m positively listening to approach some-more strain during home with HomePod now (and building a robe of regulating ‘Hey Siri’ on my iPhone outward of a home). That’s interjection to a multiple of audio peculiarity and preference of job adult strain with voice.

Now we wish to see HomePod compare a comprehension of other intelligent speakers that are arguably defective in terms of audio peculiarity and entrance to Apple services so HomePod can be easier to suggest though explaining what it can’t do.

Further Reading, Viewing, Listening

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