Apple's HomePod: What you need to know before buying one

Apple Home Pod

Apple Home Pod

From the look of it, Apple sees HomePod mainly as a way to extend the reach of its Apple Music service, not Siri. The HomePod is also able to detect its position in a room by sending sound beams in all directions and detecting when and where the beams are bounced back from a wall in a sound test that lasts 10 seconds, according to the Verge.

Apple HomePod is the company's first major new hardware launch since the Apple Watch, which debuted in 2015.

For one, Siri is just not smart enough to compete with Amazon's Alexa or Google's Home assistant, creating frustrations for reviewers.

Again, Apple's insistence on forcing its users into its walled garden limits the device's appeal (you better make sure you're ready to cough up for an Apple Music subscription to get the most out of the HomePod, for example).

HomePod is significantly more expensive than its smart speaker rivals, costing £319 compared to £74.99 for the Amazon Echo and £129 for the Google Home.

Entering the smart speaker market where the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home already operate, Apple's HomePod features proprietary audio technology that comprises a high-excursion woofer equipped with a custom-engineered amplifier, an array of seven tweeters - each of which has its own amplifier and a transducer, and six microphones. On the Echo Plus, Alexa also works as a smart home hub, and lets you set up accessories.

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Select Apple Authorised Resellers, including Best Buy in the US; Argos, Dixons Carphone (Currys PC World), John Lewis, Shop Direct (Very and Littlewoods), EE and Apple Premium Resellers in the United Kingdom; and The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra in Australia, have also started selling the HomePod locally. HomePod is also able to integrate with Apple's Home app for iOS, letting you control HomeKit accessories such as light switches and garage door openers. Amazon and Google's options work with both Android and Apple.

Google Assistant has multi-voice support to provide individuals' schedules, playlists, traffic details, and other personalized data upon request.

HomePod is an exceptional home music player, the best in its price range and several above it, offering a music listening experience that will delight any audiophile.

However, in other areas the device is limited by how locked into Apple's own ecosystem it is. A true stereo mode would be great, too.

While Apple's Siri voice assistant came early to the market, the company is late to the smart speaker trend.

"Siri on HomePod is embarrassingly inadequate, even though that is the primary way you interact with it", wrote Brian Chen in his review of HomePod for The New York Times. You shouldn't need to phrase each subsequent question in a series as if it's the first.

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