Apple’s Homepod sounds great, but has room to grow

Maxwell Goldrich, Blogger

Apple finally began shipping its Homepod after months of delays on Feb. 9. For $349, the Homepod is the newest smart speaker in town and Apple’s groundbreaking response to the Amazon Echo ($99) and the Google Home ($129).

The Apple HomePod is a highly advanced speaker that uses artificial intelligence called Siri to converse with humans through natural voice interaction.

“The apple HomePod is a step in the right direction to keep up with the competition,” sophomore Jack Horowitz said.

Unlike a typical speaker, the HomePod can tell you the latest in news, weather, sports, and traffic. It can also “adapt acoustically to its surroundings” according to Apple, which neither Amazon nor Google could do. Since this device can pair with your iPhone, it can send messages and handoff phone calls. Unfortunately, these functions are not compatible with a non-Apple phone.

If choosing to use the Apple Homekit, Apple’s smart home platform, the HomePod can also work as a hub for controlling your smart home appliances: using just vocal commands, the HomePod can turn on a single light or power the entire house.

“Although it seems the Apple HomePod is not as popular as Amazon’s Alexa, it is still as advanced in the technology being used,” senior John Kinsley said.

Though the HomePod has the ability to provide terrific sound quality, it still has room for advancement with regards to its smart home capabilities and oral processing. This is due to the newly implemented AI (artificial intelligence) and its slower refresh rates.

Another downside to the Homepod is its inability to ask Siri to play a song from any service besides Apple Music. To use unsupported music services, one must manually select the music, causing the loss of voice controls with the exception of play and pause. In this case, it might as well be a Bluetooth speaker.

In terms of features, one feature that the Google Home offers over the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod is the ability to work like an intercom. For example, if you have more than one Google Home, you can use Google to “broadcast” a message, and it will play that message to any Google Home in your house. On the other hand, the Amazon Echo has plenty of skills not available on the Google Home or Apple HomePod, like the ability to communicate with Amazon’s shopping services and track your packages. As Apple continues to develop its home ecosystem, the company will eventually create more independent features that will separate the HomePod from the others. Unfortunately, due to Apple’s high prices, it will not be as economical to coordinate other Apple services and products.

The Apple HomePod is a good purchase if you fancy a speaker that just plays music. But if you’re looking for a more precise smart speaker, you may want to go with the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. These options are much less expensive, and offer stronger interaction with commands, while providing a greater variety of services. Siri just isn’t there yet.