“My HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Echo all live within about 15 feet of each other in my apartment,” Lucas Matney writes for TechCrunch. “This is as much a testament to my obsession with smart home crap as it is to my inability to buy into a single tech giant’s hardware ecosystem. I’ve gone all-in with each assistant at various times but now my entire connected life is run through a series of commands that are held together by specific intonations, exact phrasing and speaking volumes of which I alone fully grasp.”

“This amalgam of chatty smart assistants has made me pretty in tune with each of these product’s faults, but it’s also helped me gain a deep appreciation for the individual strengths of the platforms themselves,” Matney writes. “Now, I’m not in the habit of defending near-trillion dollar companies, but I think much of [the recent HomePod] criticism is misplaced. The HomePod is probably the best-functioning smart speaker of the bunch, and I’d also contend that the company’s overall strategy is far from being “years behind” its competitors. Apple’s AI strategy needs some TLC to strengthen Siri, but with the AirPods and HomePod, Apple is building a unified front on audio hardware that will weather the gimmicks of a market that seems artificially mature to begin with.”

“HomePod wins on the intelligence of its listening capabilities via a microphone array that can hear me at a whisper’s volume even while loud music is playing. It’s an overlooked feature in hardware comparisons, and it’s honestly one of the most important in practice,” Matney writes. “While Amazon’s tech here has long been impressive as well, I’ve found the HomePod to be a bit more effective when tunes are blaring while pretty much laying waste to Google’s smart speakers (including the Max) which have always seemed to be hard of hearing in noisy environments from my experience.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: HomePod is clearly the best of the bunch. But the bar is set low in the smart speaker market and Apple needs to do much better especially when it come to giving Siri the power to do painfully obvious things that it should already do – like control Apple TV, for one example – that it cannot currently accomplish. We won’t even get into how you ship a smart speaker, selling it on quality, and not even have multi-room audio or even stereo paring available at launch, some 3.5 years after Amazon debuted the Echo.