I bought a HomePod. Here are my impressions.
1. It’s expensive.
$500 is a lot of dollarydoos for what this thing is. And what it is, is an OK sounding music player. Think of it like a modern version of a 1980s boombox, but with a lot less functionality.
2. The sound is pretty good.
Though for the money it ought to be. I’d say, for the money, the sound is not good enough. Audiophiles beware. You’re supposed to trust the algorithms to make things sound good. You won’t like giving up this much control, and you certainly won’t like the sound quality that comes out of it when you only have a single unit.
Much better AV equipment can be had for the same money, if sound quality is all you’re after, you are still better off doing it yourself.
It does “fill the room” with sound, as promised. But if you wanted your room to sound exactly like a concert hall, or to be able to pick out individual instruments in a rock concert recording, you’ll probably be disappointed.
3. Siri is still a derp.
Maybe she still struggles with the Australian accent, but I’ve found it the same level of hit-and-miss that you’ll get on your iPhone. If you have trouble getting Siri to recognise phrases on your iPhone, HomePod will also give you grief. This is a pretty bad thing since voice is the primary interaction mechanism.
The American voices are still significantly better than the Australian ones. I suggest changing it.
It does try very hard to cancel “hey siri” activation on your other Apple devices if the HomePod hears you, but it doesn’t always work. If your HomePod doesn’t hear you, your phone will still activate, and if it’s not nearby it can be awkward to retry.
4. Music over voice is clunky.
Sometimes I don’t remember the song name or album name I want to listen to. Voice doesn’t give me a convenient way to glance through my library, so I have to cross reference my computer anyway.
Often, I have to be way more specific than I should have to be, for example, if I say “play brand new eyes”, it won’t pick up that I meant the Paramore album, unless I say “play brand new eyes by paramore” — even though there’s exactly one album in my library by that name.
If I want to know the name of the song, I can say “hey siri what song is this”, but that interrupts the song by ducking the volume while she responds.
I haven’t worked out yet if there’s some way to queue up multiple albums to play in order, but “play albums by paramore” only played a single album.
On the other hand, when I said “hey siri, add this album to my library”, she did just that, and immediately my iTunes window showed the album in Recently Added; that is fucking magical.
5. As an assistant it’s a failure.
“I wish I could, but I can’t access your calendars here.”
6. What problem is this solving anyway?
The technology in this thing is very impressive. The setup was seamless, its integration with Apple Music is slick. I’m just struggling with what problem it’s trying to solve? Apple does best when identifying real problems people have and then creating a product that solves it with perfect execution.
The technology and the execution here is very good, but what was that problem in the first place? Are there really that many people around with that problem? I worry it’s not going to find an audience.
I see this thing basically like a $500 bluetooth speaker. I think $500 for a bluetooth speaker (which doesn’t even support bluetooth!!) is pathological insanity, but here I am.