Apple HomePod is already losing the smart speaker battle


Apple has confirmed HomePod fix pricing, and the short advice is simple: try really, really hard not to break it. An Apple analyst expects Cupertino to unveil a lower cost model as early as this fall, according to AppleInsider.

A few other typical smart speaker tasks that the HomePod reportedly can't do: find a recipe, make a phone call or summon an Uber (although Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed the HomePod works with Uber during an earnings call last week). It's not uncommon for Apple products to sell out on the first day, so selling out almost 2 weeks later is a bit of a red flag but expected.

Zhang says it's also possible the rumored 6.5-inch "iPhone X Plus" could include an Apple Pencil.

Apple's HomePod officially goes on sale today, with online sales of the devices expected to arrive next week.

Cloaked in a seamless mesh fabric that conceals a woofer, seven tweeters and other technical innards, HomePod is as easy on the eyes as it is your ears.

"I think Siri could be expanded and will be in the future", said Dalrymple.

Apple's HomePod help site details how to pair the device with your iPhone or iPad, how to use Siri, which gestures are supported, how to troubleshoot, and more.

There are several different types of portable speakers to choose from in any price range, but consumers looking for smart speakers have been limited to Google and Amazon.

Commands such as "Hey Siri, what's the weather like in New York City?" and "Hey Siri, play Kanye West" work without a hitch. Thanks to this handy feature, the HomePod is capable of identifying your music preferences based on your Apple Music account.

When you're ready to play music, Siri plays DJ and pulls from Apple Music to serve up songs and playlists. As someone with a cat who does enjoy testing her claws on furniture, the fact that - unlike with Amazon's latest Echo or Google's Home - you can't remove the HomePod's fabric cover yourself and swap it for a new one is a little ominous.

At the same time, the new speaker can be an exercise in frustration at times, especially when you request something of Siri that Apple's digital assistant can't deliver on HomePod. The Echo is probably fine if you want a soundtrack for your dishwashing or showering, but sounded tinny next to the HomePod.

I listened to HomePod solo and also compared it to a trio of rival smart speakers: the Amazon Echo, Sonos One and Google Home Max, playing identical tracks across a roster of songs: among them, Stormy Monday by the Allman Brothers, Money by Pink Floyd, Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin, Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock, So What by Miles Davis and New Americana by Halsey.

Built with an A8 chip that acts as the brain of the speaker, the HomePod easily transforms from speaker to home assistant. You're paying a lot to get even more entrenched in Apple's world.

My other quibble has to do with a hard challenge for Apple.

The speaker system in the HomePod is impressive, but you can get better for $350. The HomePod had more bass than the Sonos - sometimes too much. With many speakers and sound systems, there is a zone of perfection. At times, not only did HomePod respond, but so did Siri on my nearby iPhone. So why is it still so complicated?