I’ve owned several speakers including UE BOOM, UE MEGABOOM, and Samsung sound bar, but never a smart speaker. Until Now.
Unboxing the HomePod is fairly simple. When the top of the box is removed, the HomePod sits front and center. Removing the HomePod, the attached power cable sits below. At the very bottom is a small folder with a single white Apple sticker, setup instructions, UI instructions, and warranty information.
The HomePod setup process is very similar to AirPods. Just hold the unlocked iOS device near the HomePod, and a prompt will appear. The prompts request you to select your HomeKit “House” and room. This allows you to restrict AirPlay to everyone, same network, or people authorized to access your HomeKit home. Following this, you can enable personal requests, Agree to Terms and Conditions, and Transfer Accounts and Settings. Than Siri gains her voice, and will walk you through how to use HomePod.
Unlike Apple Watch, HomePod doesn’t have a stand-alone app. HomePods settings are actually found in the home app. To access the settings pain, just push on the HomePod logo. This will give you access to the alarms, and under “Details” is the settings panel.
HomePod’s big selling factor is its sound quality. As advertised, the sound quality is great. It reaches most pitches perfectly, without distortion. I found myself using it around 25% volume in my bedroom, and around 50% in my living room. Siri is also very clear.
HomePod is designed with both form and functionality in mind. With a 3D Fabric mesh on it and a small form factor, it will look great in any room. The top of the display has a “touchscreen”. When playing music, ‘+’ and ‘-‘ symbols appear, giving you touch-points to raise or lower the volume. Tapping the center of the surface will play/pause, skip track, or go back to the previous track, while keeping your finger pressed in the center summons Siri.
Within the speaker, Apple decided on having the tweeters at the bottom and the woofer at the top – the exact opposite of the arrangement found in most traditional speakers. There are seven tweeters in total, which are evenly spaced around the base. The woofer is towards to the top and fires upwards, reflecting mid and bass frequencies off the bottom of that glossy panel so they are distributed equally around the device.
Embedded in the underside of the top panel is Apple’s A8 chip. This is the same chip that first appeared inside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus back in 2014, but for a wireless speaker it’s a powerhouse.
Siri works really well, for what it can do. With the volume at 90%, I am still able to activate Siri on the other side of the room by speaking normal, and it processes my requests as intended- with only a few minor hiccups. It’s works great for questions such as “Hey Siri, can you play the next song”, “Hey Siri, play more songs like this”, “Hey Siri, what’s three times five”, “Hey Siri, how tall is Kesha” or “Hey Siri, what’s the latest news”. However, Siri isn’t perfect. Advanced tasks such as “Hey Siri, get me directions to Minneapolis”, or “Hey Siri, make a phone call” will not work. Overall, Siri is great for Music, Notes, Reminders, Alarms, Weather, Messages, Travel Times, News, and more.
For those hoping to use it for phone calls, you’re not completely left in the dark. Once you answer the phone call, you can hand it off to HomePod.
Apple has yet to include AirPlay 2 for HomePod, saying it will come in a future software update this Spring. AirPlay 2 allows users to play audio through multiple speakers at the same time, creating a home experience.
Overall, HomePod is a great speaker for those who want a smart speaker, and are in Apple’s Ecosystem. Apple Music, AirPlay, and Siri work great on the device. My biggest complaint is how Siri seems to be more limited, however I’d expect Apple to add new features to it with future software updates. The HomePod’s price has also drawn controversy, but the premium price results in a premium product.
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