Apple’s HomePod first impressions: Lots of mystery, impressive sound quality

“This week, we learned that Apple’s much-rumored smart speaker is real, and it’s called HomePod,” Jason Snell writes for Macworld. “Now the wait begins — six months until it ships in December.”

“Sure, a few of us lucky souls were able to listen to a HomePod at Apple’s developer conference, but nobody outside of Apple has talked to one or picked one up. At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s because this is a product that’s not finished yet,” Snell writes. “Apple doesn’t want to publicly commit to a feature and then realize it can’t ship it; the product as the company conceives it today may not be the product that ends up in customers’ hands in December.”

“I can tell you that what I heard from the HomePod speakers in San Jose, I mostly liked. Certainly, the device can fill a room with impressive, dynamic sound,” Snell writes. “I’ve still got some questions about the processing the HomePod does to the sound—but we’ll get to that in a bit, since that’s likely driven by software that’s still a work in progress. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the HomePod’s speakers are impressive.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: A little birdy tells us that Siri’s ability to hear users, even with loud music playing, is an eye-opener, thanks to an array of microphones that put even Siri’s best conduit, Apple Watch, to shame. basically, HomePod users will not have a problem being heard accurately. Whether or not Siri will be more capable of dealing with conversational language than she is today is the big question.

SEE ALSO:
With HomePod, Apple just wants to shake things up (for now) – June 7, 2017
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo – June 7, 2017
CNET: Apple’s HomePod offers superior sound quality vs. Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3 – June 6, 2017
Apple’s new HomePod sounds incredible! – June 6, 2017
Apple HomePod takes on Amazon Echo – June 6, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017

17 Comments

  1. I don’t read anyone writing about it but I think Federighi said (very quickly and in the middle of numerous other things) that Siri will be able to deal with follow up questions. I think they are sandbagging Siri’s improved capabilities until the iPhone reveal in Sept.

  2. remember when they announced the mac pro 6 months before it was released and how well that worked out for them?

    they should have kept this under wraps until it was done.

    its gonna be a YUuuuge disappointment.

    1. No. Not because it was announced six months in advance. If it is a disappointment, (a very YUuuge IF), it will have nothing to do with the announcement coming six months before the release.

      They announced now because that way, they are locking up the market for competing smart speakers (Alexa, Google). They did with with the iPhone, and they do it whenever they enter a new product line where they compete with established players. Consumers who are now exploring the market segment and possibly thinking about Alexa are quite likely decide to wait for a few months and get an Apple device, rather than Google or Amazon.

      And I’m quite certain it WON’T be a disappointment.

      1. @predrag But when they enter a space with established players they usually bring something truly unique to the space. A fancy speaker has been Sonos’ game for a decade. and Siri is lagging behind echo and google’s offering. They only advantage they tout is the ability for Siri to hear you over the music, while welcome, isn’t really enough to deter non brand loyal consumers from waiting. They have a nice speaker option, and a good enough digital assistant choice.

        1. What you are stating is a subjective opinion (that Siri has been lagging behind Google or Amazon, or that Sonos has been leader for ‘fancy speakers’). For you, that may sound true, but for others, not necessarily. Let us not forget legions of fans Apple has carefully built out there. There are hundreds of millions of iPhone users, and many have become fans of the Apple brand.

          We should never underestimate the power of the Apple brand. If they were to make a refrigerator, it would likely become a bestseller, even if they sold it for $2,500 (i.e. twice the most expensive competitor). While we may have seen a bit of erosion in recent years, it is still the most coveted, as well as recognisable brand in the industry, possibly in the world. Sonos doesn’t come close (but SONY may be). When Apple makes a new device, people line up at their stores around the world. Literally NO other brand has that consistent and loyal following.

          We’ll have to wait and see how nice the speaker is, and how good enough is the digital assistant in real life, but regardless of that, HomePod will likely make many people abandon their purchasing plans for Sonos / Alexa / Google Home, or whichever similar device they were planning on buying, and wait for Apple to start selling theirs.

          1. I agree that the Apple brand is a huge draw, one powerful enough to overcome high pricing, feature deficiencies, me-tooism, and johnny-come-lateliness. Not for nothing have Apple’s customers been derided as sheep. Still and all, it’s high time to give Apple props for product differentiation, an active and positive distinction beyond mere brand loyalism. — I’m not talking about build quality here, but about privacy protection. The way I see it, Apple are the only ones standing between us and a future that looks like Minority Report. If they cave to advertiser or government pressure, the Resistance will have no leader and freedom dies another death.

  3. I will have to check if she yet understands ‘Siri play some Air for me’ rather than every possible mis interpreted variation of the command… Not to mention some truly strange guesses that bear little relation at all to that particular request.

  4. Siri this, Siri that. Wtf! Listen to AppleMusic on that HomePod.

    It does more than sound good? At that price? There will be software update? Good enough.

    Instant success. Another product Apple will need to have a lot on the shelves.

  5. My big question is how can this fit in to a home theater setup? I was looking into the sonos speakers, can I buy two home pods for my rear speakers and then add the sonos sound bar and subwoofer? I’m doubting they will work together.

    1. I’m not really sure the when HomePod was designed, home theatre was even a consideration. As a concept, the home theatre audio setup has been losing popularity. After its initial rush in early 2000s (with the switch to flat HDTVs), most people realised they never bothered setting up the whole surround sound configuration, and even many of those who bothered connecting the speakers never actually got to hear them work due to the wrong mode setting, or wrong audio connection from their cable box / TV set. The whole home theatre concept was simply way too convoluted for an average consumer to connect and properly configure (who has the time and the desire to bother with the white noise speaker calibration procedure??). Over the past 10 years, I went through several home theatre receivers. For the last 8 years, my rear speakers have been sitting in storage, collecting dust. Too much hassle to run the wires, too much clutter in the living room for what essentially amounts to sonic nothingness. Nobody in my family (and not I either) was wowed by the surround effects coming from these speakers. It simply isn’t worth the hassle. And that’s for a tech guy who happily studies the manuals and figures out how things work.

      Having two HomePods as rear surround speakers would likely be a waste of money for what are essentially the least utilised speakers in the home.

      1. I would totally disagree on having a surround system set up but agree most people can seem to live without it. I set up a simple 5.1 one on our bedroom with a 60″ HDTV and it’s great. Adds a lot actually. By I sympathize with the work and clutter involved.

  6. Hey Predrag,

    I have been listening to multi-channel audio for over 20 years….you only get out of ANYTHING, what you put in….sorry you’re to lazy to set it up….you’re missing some great entertainment!

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