(NEW YORK) — Apple’s newest product, a smart speaker called HomePod, hit stores today and the reviews are generally positive.
The HomePod was set for a December 2017 release, but Apple delayed it to 2018, saying that it needed more time to perfect it.
Priced at $349, it’s much more expensive than the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which are roughly a third of the price.
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the HomePod at a keynote address in June 2017, saying that it would “reinvent home music.”
“The music quality is second to none.”
The HomePod comes in two colors — white and space gray — and features a high-excursion woofer with a custom amplifier.
“HomePod is a premium speaker with much better music and sound quality than the Amazon and Google alternatives,” Jim Martin, editor of Tech Advisor, a site that covers consumer technology, told ABC
Jim Dalrymple, an Apple expert at Loop Insights, a tech news site, said he was “pleasantly surprised by how well the music in the room seemed to just kind of envelope you.”
“The music quality is second to none,” he added. “Music is the reason I would buy HomePod.”
The HomePod uses spatial awareness to adjust the audio accordingly.
“I’ve heard the Echo and, to be honest, it kind of sounded like music from a tin box,” said Dalrymple. “Any speaker can blast music but the “HomePod puts music around the room.”
The six microphones built into the device lets Siri hear a user even from a distance.
Dalrymple claims the HomePod responded to his voice from at least 20 feet away.
A waveform display appears at the top of the cylinder base, letting a user know that Siri is listening, and it doubles as a control pad.
Built with an A8 chip that acts as the brain of the speaker, the HomePod easily transforms from speaker to home assistant.
“I think Siri could be expanded.”
Siri can send messages, give news updates, check the weather and control smart devices that are synced with the HomePod and other Apple products, the same features of the Amazon Echo and Google
But it could do more.
“I think Siri could be expanded and will be in the future,” said Dalrymple. “I would like to see Siri do more in the Apple ecosystem so I could control things like the calendar.”
“HomePod is an Apple-only device, so it is much more limited in what it can control in terms of smart home gadgets,” said Martin.
“It won’t work with Android at all,” he added, noting that Amazon’s and Google’s devices can.
And the HomePod won’t play music from popular streaming services like Pandora or Spotify.
It exclusively plays tunes from Apple’s own music subscription service, Apple Music, which costs $10 a month and offers over 45 million songs.
“[You] really need an Apple Music subscription to make the most of Siri’s capabilities,” said Martin.
However, there’s a way to get another music streaming service to play through the HomePod.
“You can play any music or audio through the HomePod from your iPhone or iPad via AirPlay,” said Martin. “So it can play Spotify without the deep integration and control with Siri.”
Both experts agree that the HomePod is a powerful music player, but it still has some kinks that Apple could fix in future models.
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.