HomePod: Features, release date and everything we know about Apple's smart speaker

HomePod: Features, release date and everything we know about Apple's smart speaker

HomePod: Features, release date and everything we know about Apple's smart speaker

Not long after this announcement, Sonos released the Sonos One, a version that has Alexa build in, and will soon have Google Assistant as well.

The voice controls only works with Apple Music.

Based on the early reviews the HomePod nails the audio performance, Siri is competent and can hear you over loud music, but there are a lot of catches for a $350 speaker.

Siri is able to answer contextual questions while a song is playing, such as "Hey Siri, what year was this song released?" or "Hey Siri, what genre is this?", and it also understands if you're listening to a jazz track and ask to hear "something different", you're probably after another genre rather than another jazz composition.

My coworker is planning to buy the Apple HomePod because he wants something better than his Bose Soundlink Mini to fill his condo and his girlfriend has an Apple Music subscription that he plans to link to the device.

Apple was previously the king when it came to music, with iTunes still being the main option many use when they'd like to download music.

We reviewed the Sonos One back in October, when Sonos used the new speaker to bring Alexa into their eco-system.

As a smart home hub it also showed promise, able to control various smart home appliances as well as control scenes created in Apple's Home app, which enables users to group and control multiple items at the same time.

Apple's HomePods in white and space grey are going on sale in December
Apple’s HomePods in white and space grey are going on sale in December

It's also the only smart speaker that features compatibility with Apple Music which is sure to make it hugely popular with the millions of subscribers to this service. Legions of Apple fans will buy them regardless, but it'll be interesting to test Siri's DJ and assistant abilities in the real world outside of test conditions, alongside the audio quality.

I've owned Amazon's very first Echo speaker for over two years now, and I have zero qualms about the sound.

Siri got some big improvements in iOS 11, including quicker response times and a more natural-sounding voice, but Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant are still superior to Siri when it comes to overall capability.

That sets up a complicated question.

Who is your favorite musician?

Are you a Democrat or Republican?

Like both of those devices, HomePod is being framed by Apple as a way to change and "innovate" how consumers listen to their favourite music and how they discover new material. And Siri, unfortunately, still could use a bit more work.

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