Hands on with Apple’s HomePod: Attractive, ultra-high-quality speaker, an excellent Siri ambassador

“If it were only a question of quality, Apple’s HomePod, which, after a months-long delay finally ships on February 9, should be an unqualified success,” Lance Ulanoff writes for Medium. “Its audio quality is excellent, especially considering its size.”

“Using the trigger phrase “Hey Siri,” HomePod responded to a variety of common Siri questions, activated HomeKit-enabled smart device tasks, and launched Siri-driven tasks, most revolving around Apple Music,” Ulanoff writes. “Put simply, Apple’s HomePod appears as good a smart speaker as most and a better audio device than many.”

Apple's HomePod
Apple’s HomePod

“The combination of Siri and a smart speaker is quite compelling,” Ulanoff writes. “Since Apple Music has access to 45 million songs you can ask it pretty much any music question and get a good answer. From playing current hits, to finding a decent 80’s channel to playing various versions of the same song. The more you use Apple Music, the more it tailors responses to your preferences. I also noticed that, even with the volume at 90 percent, the HomePod could still hear when someone said, ‘Hey Siri, stop.'”

“What Apple has here is an ultra-high-quality speaker and the first physical instantiation of Siri without a screen,” Ulanoff writes. “The fact that Apple is finally entering the smart speaker race is cause for muted celebration. It’s attractive, sounds amazing and is an excellent Siri ambassador.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Get your pre-orders in now via Apple here!

There could be a psychological component to this that leads people use Alexa over Siri precisely because they know the Echo is there (it’s a physical object), but forget about Siri being everywhere, even on their wrists (because Siri is embedded inside devices that are “for other things” in the user’s mind (telling time, watching TV, computing, phone calls, etc.) and therefore “hidden” to the user. Hence, Siri gets forgotten and goes unused while people use Alexa…

Again: We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri even though she’s on their wrists at all times and/or in their iPhones and iPads because Siri is hidden inside objects whose primary function is something other than “personal assistant” in people’s minds (watch, TV, phone or tablet, as opposed to “Siri.”) Alexa is present thanks to the Amazon Echo. Siri is absent because she has no such counterpart; no physical manifestation.

Siri is a ghost. Alexa is that cool, fun, glowing tube right there on the counter.

Apple would do well to not discount the psychology behind why people use certain features, even though cold, hard logic tells them it’s a redundant and unnecessary product.

An “Apple Echo” device would sell in the millions of units per quarter and boost Siri usage immensely.MacDailyNews, June 15, 2016

Apple’s HomePod, the iPod for your home – January 25, 2018
One hour with Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker – January 25, 2018
Apple’s iOS 11.3 beta delivers AirPlay 2 with multi-room playback – January 25, 2018
How Apple is positioning the HomePod and why – January 24, 2018
How I got talked into buying an Apple HomePod despite my reservations – January 24, 2018
Tim Cook says audio quality puts HomePod ahead of ‘squeaky-sounding’ competition – January 24, 2018
Apple’s HomePod arrives February 9th, available to order this Friday, January 26th – January 23, 2018
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017


    1. Alexa is a device that’s designed to listen to commands – that’s its sole function. It should be a lot better at being able to clearly hear you.

      Siri’s performance is really dependent on the type of device you’re using it on and of course its proximity to you.

      On the AppleTV, with the mic in your hand, it is freaken awesome. I’m sometimes amazed of what it’s able to understand.

      On an iDevice it is sometimes hit or miss. I can sit across the room from my iPhone SE an say “Hey Siri” and it will answer and most of the time completely understand me. But when I’m at work with damned phone on the counter in front of me it only hears me clearly half the time.

      So, with an array of six microphones, I’m excited to see how well far-field Siri works on the HomePod. Although I must say, I am more excited and interested in Siri’s deep knowledge of music.

    1. And you still haven’t.

      With 498 votes cast, only 29.12% say they won’t be buying a HomePod.

      Even combining that with “unsure,” it only totals 49.4%, so 50.6% of respondents are planning to buy HomePods.

        1. True, but most people on here likely already use Siri on their wrists and iPhones.

          I’m buying one (or perhaps three) but only for the Siri-controlled music.

  1. I don’t use Siri because 1. it takes a random amount of time for her to become responsive on my iPhone when I hold down the button (from 2-3 seconds, to sometimes closer to 10), and 2. the answer is not always helpful.

  2. I think there already is a “priority” but I’m not sure. My watch, iPad and Phone never “step” on each other when I say “Hey Siri”. I think using bluetooth they all know when they are near each other. If thats not how it works someone please correct me.

  3. “as good a smart speaker as most and a better audio device than many” “especially considering its size”

    Wow, that’s not a ringing endorsement.

    “The Hyundai Excel is as good an econobox as most and a better transportation device than a Radio Flyer Wagon.”
    For the too young to know- the Excel was such a POS it just about destroyed Hyundai in the US market.

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