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Apple's HomePod User Guide Tells You Everything About the Smart Speaker

11 February 2018, 05:17 | Hattie Nash

Apple's HomePod User Guide Tells You Everything About the Smart Speaker

The Apple Home Pod smart speaker inside the Cupertino lab in which it was developed

9to5Mac stopped at Apple's new Michigan Avenue store in Chicago and Apple The Summit in Birmingham, AL today to take a look and listen to how well HomePod performs in acoustic conditions that will differ significantly from most people's homes. They're all abstract pieces that say little specific about Apple's smart speaker.

The HomePod is meant for Apple users, and it only syncs with iPhones.

Also worth noting here: if you're on Android you are fat out of luck - this is an Apple speaker that implores you to go all in on Apple. The sound quality is tops and design is lovely, but with a heftier price tag, lack of partnerships with companies like Spotify and Uber, and Siri's inability to be truly useful right now, it's more of an Apple aspiration than a product ready for the prime time.

Apple's HomePod is roughly three times more expensive than the leading competitor and isn't capable of doing what others can.

And it is "spatially aware", Apple's fancy way of saying that the speaker senses the environment you place it in and adapts accordingly in seconds, using an accelerometer, Apple's A8 chip, and an array of six microphones.

Apple's HomePod went on sale this morning in the USA, and customers who preordered the smart speaker are receiving their shipments across all three countries where the device is available, including Australia and the United Kingdom. The HomePod also allows hands-free voice calls.

In my own home, I have Amazon's Echo Dot system. Siri needs to be better everywhere, and really excellent on screenless devices like HomePod, particularly when you're posing a series of questions about the same topic.

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Apple Music can be controlled by voice commands to Siri.

It's covered in a soft grill material that comes in Space Gray or White.

Unlike in the Alexa app, meanwhile, there's no log of what Siri heard and what her response was.

The Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home battle begins with the artificial intelligence capabilities of the three speakers.

But Apple Music subscribers with Android phones get shortchanged because Apple Music integration only works when there is a matching iPhone in the same Wi-Fi network. Google's speaker is the louder of the two, though mainly because of its bookshelf-speaker size and 12-pound heft, dwarfing the HomePod. Nor can Siri identify your voice as opposed to another family member's voice, something the other assistants can do. Siri on the HomePod can't differentiate between voices or handle calendar tasks, like the competition, according to CNET. Whether it's how Siri interacts with your other devices, how the assistant helps you hunt down new and interesting content, or just how straightforward HomePod is to control, there are a few important areas that Apple could easily address to improve the user-experience dramatically.

Commands such as "Hey Siri, what's the weather like in New York City?" and "Hey Siri, play Kanye West" work without a hitch.



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