Apple's pricey HomePod sounds great but exacts some trade-offs

TrendForce reveals who is winning the smart speaker race

But Siri on HomePod can not now hail you a ride through Lyft or Uber, launch a trivia game or arrange for an audiobook to be played. Whether you need a current stock price, seek the result of a calculation, wish to set a reminder or record a task, or must send a message, the HomePod can help you perform all those tasks hands-free.

"But Siri on HomePod is embarrassingly inadequate, even though that is the primary way you interact with it. Siri is sorely lacking in capabilities compared with Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant". A woofer with a custom amplifier sits near the top. You can also sync up two for even richer surround sound. Dwight Silverman, Technology editor, Houston Chronicle said that Apple's updates on Siri have lobotomized it. The company has made improvements to its voice assistant on iOS over the years, so it's possiblefuture HomePod software will make the voice assistant much smarter. "Siri doesn't even work as well on HomePod as it does on the iPhone". But Siri sometimes stumbled around current events or trivia questions, stating, "Sorry, I can't search the web here".

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.

Of course, these devices need to be compatible with Apple's Home service, in the first place.

If you fit that description and are willing to fork over $349 plus embrace the subscription-only Apple Music streaming service, HomePod is well worth the wait, an outcome I reached after testing the speaker for just shy of a week.

"You can't ask Siri to look up a recipe".

Recode: "HomePod has what can only be explained by the most balanced audio, not just of any smart speaker but of any speaker I now own, which includes a number of Sonos speakers and a Bose Home Theatre system", said Recode's Ben Bajarin.

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When combined with household smart devices - like smart power switches, lights, air-conditioning and heating - users can also program Siri to automatically use a range of devices upon a single command.

Perhaps the biggest issue stems from Siri's inability to recognize your voice apart from others.

HomePod will read text messages by default.

Apple's HomePod is roughly three times more expensive than the leading competitor and isn't capable of doing what others can. But it could hinder adoption out of the gate.

For people who don't subscribe to Apple Music, the company isn't giving casually interested users a good enough reason to choose the HomePod over other smart speakers.

Although Apple has now officially entered the "smart" speaker market, Amazon remains the market leader according to a report from research specialist TrendForce.

Apple's past week was all about sound.

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