It will be a while before we see in-depth analyses of the HomePod’s audio capabilities, but iMore’s Serenity Caldwell was impressed by its sound quality in her first impressions of Apple’s new smart speaker. She compared it to the Amazon Echo, Google Home Max, and the Sonos One, and “came away from that test both impressed and shocked by the engineering Apple has put into making this tiny 7-inch speaker a musical powerhouse in your living room.” On the downside, she notes that the HomePod currently lacks stereo pairing, multi-room audio, multi-user support, and native support for services other than Apple Music.
Apple has announced a shipping date for the HomePod smart speaker, and you can preorder it now. But should you? Josh Centers expresses some doubts.
Apple has officially delayed the HomePod until next year, and many reports indicate that, unlike the standalone Amazon Echo, it will depend on a connected iPhone for most of its smarts. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has gathered the inside story: the HomePod has been in development for over five years, was originally conceived of as a modern iPod Hi-Fi, and its designers were blindsided by the Amazon Echo. But despite the Echo’s success, Apple focused on sound quality and not voice assistant capabilities, which may prove problematic in the market. Regardless, the HomePod will have a hard time competing on audio quality alone, since you can buy several Amazon Echoes for the price of one HomePod.
Apple originally promised to ship the HomePod smart speaker in December 2017, but the company has now delayed it until early 2018, saying it needed “a little more time before it’s ready.” Although missing the holiday shopping season may give a leg up to competing products from Amazon and Google, it’s better for Apple to delay the HomePod than ship a half-baked product.
At WWDC, Apple unveiled the HomePod, its entry into the smart speaker market. Due to ship in December for $349, the HomePod promises to provide high-quality audio and virtual assistant capabilities via Siri. We’ll just have to wait until then to see how it compares with the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.