Apple HomePod Launches With Big Sound-and Even Bigger Questions

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Now, when you ask about hiding a body, Siri acts like someone whose recent lobotomy has robbed her of personality and memory. Because HomePod's all about that bass.

Time: "With the HomePod, the company will have to prove that it can compete in a game for which somebody else wrote the rules. Apple's engineers designed HomePod to sound the best no matter where you are in the room". First, HomePod puts more focus on audio performance than technology-led home assistance which he state should be the "core value" of a smart speaker. You can't use it as a traditional Bluetooth speaker. Apple is betting big that they will.

Even if you're deep in the Apple camp, there's more to keep in mind.

Finally, the HomePod is yet another major brick in Apple's walled garden. Amazon can get anything delivered to you. Here are five lessons from my test lab.

HomePod is not a directional speaker.

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

Definitely take a look if you've already purchased the speaker or are thinking about taking the plunge. Can most people tell the difference? This coupled with a wide range of products and low prices, TrendForce finds consumers are more willing to buy Amazon Echo.

For the rest, results were mixed. But sometimes perhaps too good.

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But HomePod isn't really a smart speaker - not yet at least. There's a lot of stuff about "high-excursion woofers" and "custom seven-tweeter arrays" that we'll spare you, but the real kicker is that it's intelligent enough to adapt the sound according to where you place it in the room and what music you're playing.

Most notably, which one plays music the best?

For example, the statement, "Hey Siri, I'm home", could activate the lights in your bedroom and living room, play a jazz radio station through HomePod, and activate the kettle in preparation to make tea. Alas, it had no idea what to make of the request, "Play my favorite song". Nor can Siri identify your voice as opposed to another family member's voice, something the other assistants can do. It comically mis-hears dictation. It is capable of making calls, controlling smart home accessories, providing travel information, translating words into multiple languages, looking up recipes, offering nutrition guidance, answering trivia questions, looking up stocks, and telling jokes. It can't even set more than one simultaneous timer. Siri on the HomePod can't differentiate between voices or handle calendar tasks, like the competition, according to CNET. What's mysterious is that Siri can do all those things on an iPhone. Instead, you have to either open Siri on the phone - or go to Apple Maps manually - and search for it again.

Alexa works across Amazon devices and a rapidly growing number of non-Amazon devices. But it is better about privacy in other ways. Amazon and Google keep a log of everything you ask.

While the store was busy and noisy at Michigan Avenue, I was impressed by how well HomePod's audio came across. At times, not only did HomePod respond, but so did Siri on my nearby iPhone. The HomePod, which was released today, costs $349. Third, some functions of HomePod overlap with Siri in iPhone.

You'll similarly be able to balance two HomePods next to each other for a complete stereo effect but must wait for a free software update from Apple coming later in the year. The HomePod also exclusively uses Apple Music, so Spotify and Pandora users won't be able to control their music from the HomePod, limiting the device's broader appeal.

One related concern: I was disappointed the HomePod doesn't have a closer relationship with the Apple TV. It is notable that the three mega-corporations have all released speaker systems, but how do they stack up against one another? Or allow Siri to order up shows and movies like you now do with the Apple TV remote?

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