Early this month, Apple announced its brand new product, the HomePod. The HomePod is the latest speaker product expected to hit the market, originally viewed as competition for popular speaker brands like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
But after heavier scrutinizing of the speaker itself, CEO Tim Cook believes the product is much bigger than just another smart audio speaker in the market. One could assume the CEO is comparing the HomePod to industry leaders in the field such as Bose, Sonos, Bowers, etc. Apple says its goal is to “reinvent home music.”
Though the speaker hasn’t hit stores yet, I wanted to research some of its key selling points and most importantly, the flaws it has. Let’s start with the good.
- The forefront of this product is music and because Apple’s major focus point is music, the spend on the speaker’s design was solely geared for a high-quality sounding speaker. Equipped with high-excursion 4″ sub woofers for deep, rich bass and seven tweeters for a 360º reach in sound, this speaker on paper is very appealing for any audiophile-heads out there.
- The HomePod uses advanced algorithms that continuously analyzes the music being played and tunes the low frequencies for smooth, distortion‑free sound.
- Like the iPhones, the speaker has a built in A8 chip for real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation. To dumb all that down for mine and your sake, “It sounds incredible.”
- Similar to speakers like Sonos, it uses spacial awareness to detect the spaces around it and center vocals to adjust the audio and balance the sound out accordingly.
- When paired up against digital assistant competitors like Alexa and Google Assistant, Siri falls short on intelligence or functionality that its competitors have to offer. HomePod limits you to the same Siri integrations that Apple has always had, with maybe a handful of new additions.
- The HomePod only supports Apple Music subscribers or whatever you can stream from an iPhone over AirPlay 2.
- One HomePod is more expensive than any other comparable product on the market. It cost $350 for one pod.
- You still have to use the same phrase, “Hey, Siri” to spark commands. When put against competitors like Alexa, where all you have to say is their name and a command, the interaction is much more natural and feel less like you’re interacting with technology.
It’s an intriguing buy just because of how invested I am with the company and its products (that’s Apple’s monopoly magic working on me unfortunately). But because of the disadvantages it has between other smart speakers like Alexa and Google, it’s just very hard to see past that, especially when those can do more at a lower price point. Their speaker quality might lack but if it’s more functional and easier to use, I feel that it can outweigh differences like sound quality. And this is coming from a big time sound quality guy.
But this isn’t to say that the HomePod doesn’t have a lot of potential. At the end of the day, what this comes down to is price and functionality. Are you more interested in the quality of the speaker itself, or the user-ability of the speaker (i.e. voice commands, virtual assistant, etc.).
Price wise, you have just as good of competitors like Bose, Sonos, Harmen Kardon, etc. It would be interesting to see how the HomePod plays up against these leaders. If you have the money, go for it. We all know how Apple products are susceptible to updates for advancements in their products so who knows what they could have planned for this thing. But if you’re looking at cost and user-ability, Amazon and Google might be the better play here.
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