Apple took a little more than three years to enter the space of smart speakers, and now that it has done so, it is accentuating the quality of sound instead of intelligence. We know that Apple prefers to perfect something before launching a new product to the market, so it’s no surprise that we’ve taken a while to see the arrival of HomePod. But is it that the wait was worth it? We will discover it in this review.
Recently, Apple added new and useful features for its HomePod related to the company’s virtual assistant. Now, thanks to Siri, you can search for song lyrics, set multiple timers, make and receive phone calls, to nothing more and nothing less than to speak in Spanish.
As you read! With a free software update, HomePod adds support for the Spanish language in the US. UU. Spain and Mexico, and expands support in Canada with Canadian French.
This means that you will no longer have to be fighting for Siri to understand the special “accent” you have in English, but now you can do it in your primary language and you will understand.
In addition, if that were not enough, you can also ask Siri to find your iPhone (if you lost it again) and even use more specialized and simple shortcuts for your daily life.
The original experience of HomePod is more or less what would be expected from Apple, except that this could be the most simplified product presentation so far: you get the speaker and you’re done. There is a small product card and that’s it.
The first impression of the horn is great. With 5.5 pounds it is heavy, and that is due to its components, like the huge magnets in the internal controllers. This device is built like a tank. The power supply is integrated into the loudspeaker, and the supplied cable is covered with a braided fabric, which adds some additional elegance. The soft and soft material used for the cover looks and feels very good, and Apple says it is acoustically transparent, so it should not alter the sound quality.
We have established that the HomePod looks and feels great. Now it’s time to set it up. First, you will need to take out your iPhone. Oh, do not you have an iPhone? Well, that’s going to be a problem. To configure your HomePod, you must have an iOS device capable of running iOS 11.2.5, with Bluetooth: no other phone will work. The HomePod is designed only for Apple’s loyal fans, and you’ll find that it’s an important point throughout our review.
If you have an iOS device, the configuration is excellent. Make sure you have Apple KeyChain enabled and two-factor authentication enabled, plus you’re connected to your Wi-Fi router and that Bluetooth is turned on in your device. At this point, you just have to hold your phone next to the speaker, click on a few ‘OK’ buttons, and the HomePod is virtually set up alone: it connects to your Wi-Fi, imports your Apple Music credentials, and is ready to start.
The HomePod is surrounded by seven custom amplifiers around the base, to help spread the sound throughout the room evenly. A woofer is at the top, with 20 mm. of surface to offer deep bass. In the middle you have a network of six microphones, which is not only used to pick up your voice from the other side of the room, but also to detect frequencies of the objects and walls of the room. This, together with the A8 processor (the same chip in the iPhone 6 ), helps you detect the space of a room, and gives the speaker the ability to adjust its sound to be of high quality in any space.
If you are still reading this article, we assume it is because you have an iPhone, and we also hope you enjoy using Apple Music , because that is the only source of music that you can play using voice commands. You cannot ask Siri to play any of your Spotify or Pandora playlists.
Yes, you can access Spotify and some other music or video applications using Airplay, but there is no Bluetooth connection or auxiliary input to connect non-Apple devices.
IPhone owners who use Apple Music will be happy to know that Siri’s integration is quite good. Siri plays the music we want to hear and can tell us things about the song or interpreter if we ask, for example: “Hey Siri, tell me more about this singer”.
If you have a device that works with HomeKit, enter into your control center and make sure all your devices are registered. Then, you can set up “scenes” for example, by saying “Good morning”, you can program Siri to turn on the kitchen lights, your coffee machine and play your favorite song. In a world where smart devices are increasingly common in the home, Apple makes it easy to control everything with Siri. You can also serve as a speaker for iPhone calls or to project your voice to other rooms, if you have more than one Home Pod.
Unlike others, HomePod does not offer voice recognition, although it can read your text messages and you can also dictate them, so you can have a full text conversation with hands-free. Apple notes that the connected iPhone must be on the same network for the message function to work, so you should not worry about someone hearing or sending messages in your name without you knowing.
However, that is not the only problem due to the absence of voice recognition. Because a HomePod connects to a person’s phone and their Apple ID, it is inextricably linked to that person’s Apple Music account, so others may have access to and change lists, tastes, or preferences.
Apple says that almost all information that is passed from HomePod through the Internet is secure and anonymous. The only information Siri shares with Apple is the history of what you hear, which you use to create custom playlists that suit your tastes.
This is the strong point of HomePod. Inside the speaker is the powerful A8 processor from Apple to actively manage the sound. The HomePod constantly listens to its surroundings and changes the EQ curve and beams to optimize the sound quality for its environment.
If we put the HomePod in a corner, for example, it will notice the change and compensate it by reducing certain frequencies so that we have a cleaner sound. HomePod always knows where it is and uses the information it collects to optimize sound. This includes the use of ‘Beamforming’, which results in a very articulate and nuanced sound quality that assumes a presence throughout the room. The HomePod, sounds great everywhere.
The quality of the sound is really the best attribute of the HomePod. We compared it with a second generation of Amazon Echo, a Google Home Max and a Sonos One, and the HomePod was the absolute winner. There really is no competition.
Something to keep in mind is that the HomePod is not compatible with multiroom audio. Currently, if you have a Sonos One or one of the Amazon speakers, you can ask Alexa to continue playing your music in another room or touch it in several rooms at the same time. Google also has similar functions. Alexa can also control programming on Fire TV devices, and Google on Chromecast , but HomePod does not work this way.