Apple’s HomePod is the only smart speaker you should buy

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WHEN it involves residence devices, the tech world’s newest battle has sensible audio system on the centre of it.

Mainstream adoption of AI-powered sensible audio system has been taking off just lately however what’s the purpose of a speaker until it sounds actually nice?

Amazon’s Echo speaker — dubbed Alexa — was the primary to market within the US and rapidly outlined the style whereas Google’s HomePod was the primary to launch in Australia when it debuted in mid 2017.

Apple was a bit late to the occasion, coming to the Aussie market with its HomePod speaker in February this 12 months. Since then it has up to date the HomePod software program and given it new capabilities in addition to compatibility with different stereo manufacturers.

The speaker itself is barely bigger than its aforementioned rivals, and it’s definitely costlier — however for excellent cause. Relating to sound high quality, it blows them out of the water.

RELATED: The rise of voice expertise is right here

You may get your self an Amazon Echo for as little as $149, or a Google Dwelling for $130. The Apple HomePod will set you again greater than thrice that at $499 however for audiophiles, or anybody who plans to hearken to lots of music, it’s completely price it.


HomePod is designed to be a useful residence assistant, working as a hub that allows you to management your Apple HomeKit equipment with simply your voice. So when you’ve got Good Dwelling equipment like sensible mild bulbs, followers, airconditioning, locks or residence cameras, you possibly can management them by way of the HomePod.

However on the subject of smarts, the HomePod is taking part in catch up.

With iOS 11.four, Apple lastly added calendar assist for Siri on the machine which is a really helpful addition.

You’ll want to verify the HomePod’s software program is updated (simply activate automated downloads) and also you’ll additionally want to verify your machine is sharing its location. To grant the HomePod entry to your calendar, go into the Apple Dwelling app and switch off private requests.

When you’ve accomplished that you may ask Siri about your upcoming occasions and get a run down of what you’ve obtained on that day.

The HomePod is helpful for easy Siri-related duties like setting a timer, which is nice within the kitchen. Typically my one job when my companion is cooking is to set timers so I’m thrilled to have outsourced this to the HomePod.

You may ship textual content messages by way of HomePod. The speaker will learn your dictation again to you earlier than sending the message and its listening expertise are tremendous correct. For somebody eager to spend much less time their cellphone display screen, I really like this characteristic. And while you obtain a textual content, you possibly can ask the speaker to learn it out.

In order for you a fast hit of stories, you possibly can ask the HomePod to “give me the newest headlines”

and also you get a 5 minute information bulletin of the highest headlines of the day. The default is ABC Information however you can even swap to Seven Information or SBS.

The HomePod is helpful for fundamental queries just like the climate, the information, inventory costs, site visitors circumstances, measurement conversions and easy stuff like that however don’t anticipate it to reply an excessive amount of else.

As an illustration, if you happen to ask, “When do the Sydney Swans play subsequent?”, you’re out of luck. “Sorry I don’t find out about Australian soccer,” Siri HomePod informed me.


You should utilize voice management to entry Apple apps just like the Podcast app and it syncs along with your machine so you possibly can seamlessly swap backwards and forwards between the HomePod and your iPhone with out dropping your spot within the episode.

Nevertheless, the HomePod is a approach of driving music lovers to Apple Music, the corporate’s subscription music streaming service. As such there isn’t a Siri voice management functionality if you happen to’re listening to Spotify and also you’ll have to manage the speaker by way of your cellphone.

With the latest AirPlay 2 replace, you possibly can hyperlink HomePod audio system collectively for a very nice stereo expertise. You may play the identical music in all places, or play a unique track in each room by merely asking.

I used to be fortunate sufficient to trial two HomePods and linking them up was nice for a top quality immersive sound expertise however when you begin including HomePods it does get costly and at that time it’s price different speaker choices on the similar value.

The speaker requires you to have an iOS machine to make use of it however in a latest replace, Apple has made the HomePod suitable with stereo maker Sonos so you possibly can hyperlink it up along with your present residence music tools and use the HomePod as a voice managed interface.


If you ask Siri to show as much as the max quantity, she replies with a little bit of sass: “That’s very loud, are you positive?”

Whereas I don’t want that form of insolence from my speaker, she has a degree. The machine can pack a severe sonic punch for its 18cm tall measurement and it nonetheless sounds nice with none noticeable distortion.

It achieves this through the use of seven tweeters pointed in all instructions and a high-excursion woofer that strikes lots of air round to create deep and satisfying bass sounds.

The speaker has spatial consciousness so it can mechanically sense its location in a room, then analyse and modify the audio it pushes out accordingly. So in case your HomePod is up towards a wall it can account for the sound bouncing off the close by floor and recalibrate. For instance, it can bounce background vocals off the flat floor and ship the vocal observe straight out entrance. The vary of so-called “audio improvements” are powered by the highly effective Apple-designed A8 chip.

Once more, that is the place the product excels.


The speaker is wrapped in a mesh cloth that appears very nice and is designed with efficiency in thoughts.

It is available in two colors — white and black — and is devoid of any knobs or buttons giving it a smooth and trendy look.

On the highest is a touch-sensitive panel and light-weight that can sparkle with the acquainted colors when Siri is engaged.

Six microphones are positioned round HomePod to allow you to converse to it from wherever within the room and beamforming or spatial filtering potential means it can at all times hear you say, “Hey Siri” even if you happen to’re blasting tunes so loud the neighbours will likely be irritated.


The HomePod actually solely is sensible when you’ve got an iPhone and are already fortunately in Apple’s walled backyard, notably so if you happen to’re an Apple Music subscriber.

The machine doesn’t match the bogus intelligence expertise of Alexa or Google Dwelling however on the finish of the day, it’s a speaker system and also you need it to sound nice.

They’re not precisely low-cost at $499 a pop, however for somebody like me who primarily desires to make use of it for listening to loud music and doesn’t have to pepper it with summary questions I can merely google, it’s the one sensible speaker that is sensible.

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