Ben Bajarin: You can’t unhear Apple’s HomePod

“Before receiving my Apple HomePod to review, I found myself in a house in Noe Valley in San Francisco,” Ben Bajarin writes for Tech.pinions. “Apple invited me to see and experience HomePod in a unique home setup before taking one home to try for myself.”

“On an entertainment center, that looked like a retro design out of the 70’s with silver and copper knobs, wood like old cedar, and metallic grates, sat a Sonos Play One (Alexa enabled), A Google Home Max, Apple’s HomePod, and an Amazon Echo 2nd generation,” Bajarin writes. “Listening to these demos side by side, and even once I got HomePod home and had it play in my living room comparing it to my Sonos Play One and my Amazon Echo, what hit me was once you hear the HomePod it is hard to unhear it.”

Apple's HomePod
Apple’s HomePod

 
“Once you listen to it and experience it for yourself, there is no going back,” Bajarin writes. “My Sonos, as great as it sounds, and my Echo’s just didn’t sound the same after listening to the same songs on the HomePod. You can’t unhear the quality of the HomePod, and it will change your opinion of many others speakers you may own. There was no going back. I can say, with absolute confidence, the HomePod will be the best sounding speaker many people have ever owned.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

It’s more sophisticated, yet less complicated.

It’s more powerful, yet less cumbersome.

It can play vast amounts of music or tell you what’s in store for tomorrow.

It’s an audiophile quality smart speaker from Apple.

HomePod. The smart speaker for the rest of us.

SEE ALSO:
Inside Apple’s HomePod audio lab – February 6, 2018
Ten things nobody has told you about the Apple HomePod – February 6, 2018
TechCrunch reviews Apple’s HomePod: Easily the best sounding mainstream smart speaker ever – February 6, 2018
WSJ reviews Apple’s HomePod: Sounds far better than the popular smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and Sonos – February 6, 2018
CNET reviews Apple’s HomePod: Strong wireless speaker with awesome sound – February 6, 2018

14 Comments

  1. Although the HomePod has great sound quality, that’s not what the smart speaker market is about. Siri is going to be a major problem when compared to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. The tech world is going to focus on the “smart” part and there’s where Apple is going to lose out. The HomePod will be said to not have enough integration and isn’t open enough to other music services to compete with the other smart speakers. I’m sure whatever good the HomePod has, it’s not going to be considered good enough for an Apple product.

    I fail to understand why Apple is having such a hard time making Siri as smart as Alexa or Google Assistant. I can only guess that due to Apple’s privacy concerns, Siri is being handicapped. An assistant that’s not privy to personal information can never be as good as one that has all of one’s personal information. Maybe that’s why Apple has to put more focus on sound quality than intelligence.

    In the end, I’m fairly certain the tech industry critics are going to tell consumers not buy Apple’s higher-cost HomePod because it isn’t worth the money. They’ll say that there are already better smart speakers on the market for much less money even if they sound like crap. With Amazon’s and Google’s offerings you can easily put a smart (speaker) assistant in every room for the cost of a single HomePod. Market share percentage is always Wall Street’s go-to metric. Quality means nothing. The HomePod will end up being called the loser to all smart speakers. The judgment might be unfair, but that’s just how it is.

    1. “that’s not what the smart speaker market is about.”

      You sound like Steve Ballmer when he said the SmartPhone market was all about the keyboard.

      Lots of people WANT a decent sounding speaker. I’m intrigued by the possibilities, and I was NOT in the market for a smart speaker. I am in the market for speakers, though — and Home Pod may be the perfect solution for me (and millions of others).

      1. Yes. We lost our Bose system — and various appliances and other electronics — due to an “open neutral” condition arising from the electric utility side of our power supply.

        The Apple HomePod sounds like the perfect replacement for the Bose system.

    2. … and this sort of thing has been said to a lesser or greater degree against almost every Apple product since the 80s. Yet apple has become the Worlds most valuable company on its products. we all know that Apple has dropped the ball somewhat on this one but comments like yours just blend into that forever background noise it won’t seriously affect the success of otherwise of a clearly superior product in many ways any more than it has all those previous products that were put down. Fact is Alexa gets all this hype yet in tests it fails to compare to other voice assistants in overall quality just the breadth of the things it can tie into i.e. quantity over quality. It seems that people now unquestionally buy into it because it has sold a lot (Amazon did a great job in selling the idea after all) just as so many did with Microsoft Windows over the years and didn’t question it on any other basis than apparently it was the most ‘popular’ so must be the best.

      Apple must take a lot of the blame for letting Amazon get away with that and the fact that it has been so slow in expanding upon Siri’s capabilities but don’t let the myth perpetuate that it is actually less intelligent than Alexa because the latter leaves an awful lot to be desired and in the end it becomes just another list of things that most people simply won’t use it for while tolerating its overall inferiority on things that they do. Apple however needs to get the basics right which though people seem to bandy it about have nothing to do with sire’s intelligence just giving it the tools to do relatively unintelligent things that are inexcusably missing by neglect.

  2. Ok. I agree with most of what you said, it’s pretty much the boilerplate for Apple vs. the smart speaker world, but what I’m interested in is Alexa vs. Siri.

    One of the consistent things I’ve found with people who are critical of Siri is that they really don’t use it.

    Siri and Alexa are different. Alexa is basically a stand alone platform. People can write apps for Alexa, but most of them, at least those that I have experienced, aren’t terribly compelling. Don’t get me wrong, I like Alexa a lot, actually, but I just don’t find it superior to Siri by leaps and bounds.In fact many of the things that Siri can do easily, Alexa requires an app for, like email.

    Siri on the other hand compliments the macOS and iOS environments. Siri can control your computer and iPhone. I cannot ask Siri to play games with me (Yet), but Siri is right there when I want to know where my friends are, time, date, make phone calls, face time calls, launch apps, send and read texts, and on and on. Siri is also now being extended by 3rd party apps. Siri is better at math than Alexa. (Or at least I had an easier time of verbally expressing math problems to Siri.)

    The thing is, sitting with both in the room, I generaly only ask Alexa the same things I’d ask Siri, and Siri can do more of them, not to mention participate in Apple’s continuity.

    More often than not, when I ask Alexa to play music (and why would you with the crappy little speaker) she tells me the music is not available and offers to help me buy it. Apple music tends to find it.

    They are both ok at fuzzy requests like “Play me some 1970s funk.” Siri picked out first “The World is a Ghetto” by War, which has forever endeared Siri to me.

    Alexa went immediately for Earth Wind and Fire, “That’s the way of the World.” Both excellent choices. Siri seems to do a far better job of putting together playlists though.

    These are listed as Alexa basics and Siri will do them all:

    “Alexa, what’s on my calendar for today?”
    “Alexa, remind me to pick up Jodie at 3pm.”
    “Alexa, set a timer for one hour.”
    “Alexa, add clean the kitchen to my to-do list.”
    “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?”
    “Alexa, who sings ‘Bad and Bougee’?”
    “Alexa, did the Broncos win last night?”

    Keep in mind, when you create a reminder or a list it is part of all the devices in the Apple ecosphere.

    BTW, iOS and macOS can use Alexa with about 4 different tools in the App store, so I don’t think it will be long before you can tell Siri, “Ask Alexa to…”

    About the only thing I seriously miss from Alexa on Siri is playing word games. I’m rather happy that Siri doesn’t have drop in.

    Alexa has lots of skills that are just apps and I assure you that developers will catch up where useful quickly.

  3. What cunning, semantic, subterfuge! You wrote an anti-Apple HomePod PR statement for Amazon and Google and Sonos.

    I finally found a dour, pessimistic, unreasonably one-sided, and negative observation to which I can rightfully say “what drivel!”

  4. I agree with the thought that “those who knock Siri don’t use it”; I have found that to be completely true. While watching some of the review today, the Verge once again dropped the ball with Nilay playing the fumbler this time. He straight up lied about not being able to use Spotify, and then didn’t even use Siri commands when trying out Siri! In the comments below the video Nilay admitted that Spotify could be used and after being corrected about 220 times, amended his Siri comments. This is two consecutive trash reviews from them that were obviously deliberately negative and misleading, just like the series 3 watch review.
    All that said, Alexa is a shopping assistant and can never find music on Amazon because they don’t have nearly enough. Google assistant is great at answering nonsense questions that you’d never ask in the course of real life, but lousy at actually being an assistant, while Siri actually does what Apple says it does, while protecting privacy.

  5. Compare them to a real set of speakers through a real amplifier..

    anything sounds better then those little cheap boxes of “surround” that people are wasting money on these days…

    1. In the same vein of discussion,
      Marketing a tweeked up bluetooth speaker and calling it the “best sound you’ve ever heard” is not a whole lot different than marketing a consumer grade computer and calling it PRO.

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