HomePod hands-on review: a smart speaker that sounds better

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What the HomePod and Siri combination doesn't allow users to do is purchase products the way Amazon users can connect with Alexa via a range of devices or users of the Google Home device can connect with the Google Assistant.

What I'm less convinced of, however, is whether customers will care. But how well Siri is integrated and how useful it is to control the speaker is likely to be the deciding factor for many would-be customers. And audio? A glorified intercom will do. The three big home speakers from these three mega-corporations will soon be installed in homes across the globe.

By contrast, Apple approached speakers in typical fashion: It controls the experience from end to end. This is still slightly less than the Amazon Echo Plus, at $149, while the Google Home is even more expensive than the Apple HomePod, at a hefty price tag of $399. The speakers are available in black or white, though you can't mix and match, it seems.

On top of the device, there is a four-inch woofer which is supposed to be capable of 22 millimeters of excursion. Even if you change the location of the HomePod while it is still playing, the speaker will know.

Did I mention it sounds great, too?

Apple's HomePod enters smart speaker fray

What will really matter though is how well the HomePod recognizes speech.

In a blog post Tuesday, Sonos knocked the shortcomings of Apple's HomePod.

Apple's first foray into the smart speaker market has not gone without hiccup.

Sonos One also has more flexibility when it comes to the virtual assistant you can use with it. This means users will be forced to pay a monthly fee for Apple Music if they want to listen to music on the speaker. Concerning China's decline in phone shipments, Simon says Americans will always buy new phones for new features, but China is a different market and Apple will need to learn how to adjust. Oddly now its a little lacking in bass, but overall this is more like it. Amazon's Echo (with its voice assistant "Alexa") and Google's Home (with "Google Assistant") have many similar faults, whether we're talking about mishearing commands, not understanding them, or not being able to do what you want them to do. "Sonos One sounds incredible on its own, but the ability to have a stereo pair or have music in two rooms vs. one at $349 USA feels like it's an easy choice for those who truly love music", said Joy Howard, chief marketing officer at Sonos. Maybe you should ask Siri. Play from Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, TuneIn or dozens of other streaming services. Apple says this function, which is part of its upcoming AirPlay 2 platform, will be added to the HomePod via a software update later in 2018, but hasn't specified when this will be.

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