Review: HomePod - An Error Or A Hit?

Review: HomePod – An Error Or A Hit?

When it comes to full reviews, we do We really like to test the products thoroughly before giving them our prints. So we do this without hurry, for several weeks, and usually try to schedule the publication of the text next arrival of the product in Brazil.

Well, as you may already know, there is no date for this to happen with respect to HomePod simply because Siri only speaks the English language today. Months after its original release, the product is still available for purchase only in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

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Official Image:

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But yes, I've had more than enough time to get to know you thoroughly and give you all my impressions. That is, to know in depth in its current state that, unfortunately, still not even what Apple promised in the original announcement. I'll talk about it later, of course.

At the end of this review, I hope to answer if HomePod was a mistake or a hit.

Speaker or smart assistant?

Apple executives aren't idiots. They know that Siri today eats dust for Google Assistant and Alexa, so they thought about how to introduce HomePod to the world, so they brought to market a product with a slightly different proposition than their main competitors. .

So far, the wave of devices in this segment was somewhat uniform: smart speakers with assorted assistants, and prices not so far apart. In addition, some also played music a little better than the others. Music was definitely not the focus on designing such products.

With HomePod, Apple reversed the game. Knowing its great Achilles heel, the company announced the product as “an extremely high-quality home speaker” that happens to be controlled by a voice assistant. smart.

In the frying egg, however, we are talking about products of the exact same category. What sets them apart are factors such as design, dimensions / weight, types of interaction, which wizard is embedded in the software and, of course, price. It is quite different, for example, from Bluetooth speakers that can be controlled by the smartphone and whose function is to play audio only.

That is, Apple has a big problem here in its hands. If HomePod's main differential is its excellent (and yes, excellent) sound quality, in recent months well-matched competing solutions have arrived on the market. We put HomePod in front of two of them, Sonos One and Google Home Max:

At $ 350 in the United States, Apple has positioned HomePod among the models premium of smart speakers. Both Sonos and Google have more expensive solutions, but the segment as a whole is dominated by more affordable options.

And, at a cursory assessment, it's hard to choose HomePod if you're not 100% immersed in the Apple world. At least not while Siri is at the level we're used to today.

The Siri

Okay, since we're talking about her, let's dive right into that berry. Many may not remember, but Apple pioneered smart wizards in bringing Siri to the iPhone 4s in 2011, just as Steve Jobs died. She had the knife and cheese in her hand, but she settled down, was overtaken, and today she eats dust.

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Official Image:

"data-medium-file =" https://.uol/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/26-homepod-600×510.gif "data-large-file =" https: // .uol/wp-content / uploads / 2018/01/26-homepod-1260×1071.gif "src =" https://.uol/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ 26-homepod.gif "alt =" HomePod "width =" 1412 "height =" 1200 "class =" alignnone size-full wp-image-620781 "/>

Not to be totally unfair to Siri, there is no intelligent assistant on the planet as multilingual as she is. There are now 20 languages ​​supported in all, against half of Google Assistant and only 3 of Alexa. However, after years of waiting for Siri in Portuguese (which came with iOS 8.3 in April 2015), the latest Apple TVs landed without support for it (which was recently resolved with tvOS 11.3) and now HomePod's turn. to go through the same.

In short, if your goal is to have a HomePod to control you in Portuguese, sit back and wait because there is no predicting when this will be released. By all accounts, the big challenge lies in optimizing the assistant for the kinds of things we ask her which, in the case of a speaker, are mostly music, albums and bands / artists.

And, my friend, Siri * must * begin to understand English with the Portuguese:

That said, obviously I had no choice but to set up my HomePod in English and I happened to be able to do a full test with Siri because I have language skills. Already my wife, for example, speaks a basic English and can also communicate with Siri, but often ends up preferring to control everything by the same iPhone.

Closing the scope of the assessment specifically for Siri's English performance, there is little to complain about. The six-microphone system around HomePod is crazy and no one is lying when he says he can hear us in the most incredible situations. You may be in another mode, the music may be playing loudly through HomePod that Siri will most likely hear from you, even without you having to scream.

Also considering commands exclusively in the English language, Siri's accuracy rate in my tests was excellent. It gets it again when we want to mix commands in more than one language. Do not want to ask “Hey Siri, play some Success Palms” or “Hey Siri, what's the weather in Lawn”Because you will be annoyed.

What can Siri do in HomePod?

Obviously, Siri's main focus on HomePod is to play music. You can request a specific track, album, band or artist, genre, playlist, an Apple Music radio, podcasts and so on.

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Official Image:

"data-medium-file =" https://.uol/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/09-homepod-albums-600×231.jpg "data-large-file =" https: / /×484.jpg "src =" 2018/02/09-homepod-albums.jpg "alt =" HomePod "width =" 2880 "height =" 1107 "class =" alignfull size-full "wp-image-621750" srcset = "https://.uol / wp-content / uploads / 2018/02/09-homepod-albums.jpg 2880w, https://.uol/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/09-homepod- albums-300×115.jpg 300w, https://.uol/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/09-homepod-albums-600×231.jpg 600w, https://.uol. en / wp-content / uploads / 2018/02/09-homepod-albums-1260×484.jpg 1260w "sizes =" (max-width: 2880px) 100vw, 2880px "/>

But it also answers basic / generic things like weather forecast, nearby locations, traffic situation, latest news, sports scores (not all sports / championships), stock values, measurement conversions, world time, among others.

HomePod also has alarms and timer embedded, but for now only one at a time which a bit strange. And if you enable the Personal Requests In the initial setups, by connecting your HomePod to the Apple ID, you can also read and send messages, create reminders and also notes (soon, it should gain calendar support). You can even transfer calls from iPhone to HomePod, but not start them through it.

And a multitude of other commands come in for the modern crowd who are already lucky enough to have devices compatible with framework HomeKit With HomePod, you can use Siri to adjust lights, thermostats, curtains, air conditioning, door / garage locks and the like.

However, she cannot perform some actions competitors can, such as asking for an Uber. In addition, Siri responds to any voice without any recognition. So if you enabled the feature Personal Requests, as I said above, be aware that anyone in your household can send a message to someone on your behalf or ask Siri to read your notes, for example if you have your iPhone nearby.

Other ways to control HomePod

If we could only control HomePod through Siri, it would be difficult to recommend it by. Fortunately, this is not the case.

First of all, it is worth remembering the obvious: what does HomePod * not * have a physical input P2, that 3.5mm audio port. The only cable that comes out of it is the power cord, the rest is all absolutely wireless.

But if you are not going to control HomePod by your voice, you must have an Apple device to do so. In addition to 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, HomePod is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, but this connectivity is not open to any and all devices. That is, a smartphone with Android can not see HomePod and send music to it.

You can therefore use Apple's AirPlay technology to stream music from iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV and play what you want on HomePod, just like a conventional wireless speaker.

This is exactly how Spotify can be used with HomePod, as Siri currently only talks to Apple Music itself. Once Spotify is playing on HomePod from any device via AirPlay, you can even use Siri to perform playback commands (such as pausing, playing music, or adjusting volume), but only.

Another interesting thing to do, and it may seem a bit confusing at first glance, is to control the local playback of HomePod by the iPhone / iPad itself. To do so, instead of choosing HomePod from the AirPlay icon below the iPhone / iPad music playback, you first switch to the HomePod environment via Control Center. This makes a total difference, because in this case HomePod keeps accessing what is playing directly in the cloud ie you can even turn off your iPhone / iPad as long as it keeps playing normally.

See the difference:

Notice the bottom of the first two screenshots.

Oh, of course: there is still the upper surface of HomePod, which is sensitive. By tapping the center, you play / stop the music, and when there is something playing, you can use the “+” and “-” signs to control the volume. Touching twice advances the track; playing three times rewinds the track; touching and holding in the center calls Siri. That simple.

Black Home Top with Siri Cone

Sound quality

Okay, come on. Very objectively: Does HomePod deliver on what Apple promises? Yes, no doubt. The problem is that sound quality is something absurdly subjective.

I am not an audiophile and I am not going to get in the way of analyzing the nuances of HomePod sounds by issuing complex terms and weaving separate comments about bass, midrange and treble. I am simply a demanding person who enjoys quality sound (not only from the speaker itself, but from what it is reproducing).

So yes, I categorically state that the sound quality of HomePod is sensational. Especially considering what the product is physically, something I'll talk more deeply about in the typical “Design” section below. His reproduction clears (I haven't seen him distorting even once) and the positioning of his seven tweeters The Cylinder provides a 360 spatial fill that I had never seen on a speaker before.

HomePod Inside

Interestingly, Apple positions the woofer at the top of HomePod, pointing up. And its power also impresses.

Some will certainly criticize Apple for not offering HomePod software an audio equalizer. But the idea of ​​the product is just the opposite of that: HomePod is made for you to play whatever you want to hear, play on the couch and enjoy a good sound. The experience is very pleasant.

Siri may not have all that intelligence we expect from her in 2018, but Apple has built into HomePod a lot of acoustic spatial intelligence. It has sensors that identify when moved from place and adjust sound distribution accordingly, providing what the company calls audio beamforming direct and environment. All this is also thanks to the A8 chip, which is the "brain" of HomePod.

For those who want maximum audio fidelity, the good news is that HomePod supports the FLAC format. In addition we have HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16Kbps to 320Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16Kbps to 320Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV.


HomePod is far from being a design reference product in Apple's history, but I am once again impressed by the company's ability to create something quite different in a saturated segment of very similar options.

We have here a 14.2cm wide and 17.2mm high cylinder, all wrapped in a special fabric available in space gray or white, with a non-slip silicone base (which has caused problems with wood tables and the like, but it is a smooth touch-sensitive surface. If you have never seen a live one, you will probably find it smaller than you imagined when you saw it.

HomePod Space Gray and White

At the same time, the pet weighs 2.5kg. First you are impressed by the diminutive size; later, with a heavier weight than expected. He is solid, robust.

When we went to buy our HomePods, me, Breno and Edu got stuck on the colors. Everyone was a little afraid that white would be more likely to get dirty over time, so they tended toward the gray space version; I volunteered to get the white one, because I thought it would look better here in the living room rack.

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Official Image:

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And I think I got it right. The gray version would surely draw a lot of attention in my setup Here and, fortunately, I'm not having a bad experience with dirt. I'd even say that passing a duster over the entire HomePod is basically the same as when I pulled it out of the box.

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Official Image:

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Speaking of cash, here's our video from unboxing:

It is an absurdly simple package. When lifting the top, we come face to face with the HomePod, which comes with its power cord plugged in (it can be pulled out but not recommended) and below it we have a small circular envelope with an initial use guide, information warranty card and a classic Ma sticker.

Just to be clear, HomePod as well as all of its major competitors * no * has an internal battery. The product proposal is to stay 100% of the time on (with low power consumption, according to Apple) and waiting for a voice command from the user, so it necessarily needs to be plugged in.

Home app management

Anyone with AirPods or any modern Beats handset equipped with the W1 chip should know about Apple's new pairing process, which is to just bring the device closer to the iPhone / iPad to launch an automated assistant.

With very similar HomePod, as shown here:

Having made this initial setup, which is generally pretty basic, there is little to do with HomePod software. No wonder he didn't even get a dedicated app; all done by the House (Home), native to iOS.

From Home, you can manage HomePod alarms, rename the mode it is associated with, change the Apple ID connected to it, make Siri adjustments, determine speaker access levels, and of course apply updates from your home. operational system. Nothing very special, at least not today.

Fullroom and MultiRoom

In a few days, we will be one year from the original announcement of HomePod. Yes, it only actually hit the market many months later, but the fact that two of its key features are not yet available to users.

The first what Apple calls FullroomThat is the possibility of you having two HomePods in one room and connecting them to have a truly narrow experience and, of course, with twice the power.

Incidentally, speaking of power: HomePod's truly amazing sound quality and individual power impresses, especially considering the size. But there is, of course, a limit to what one might expect in terms of the power of such a compact speaker. A single HomePod is certainly enough to fill a room or a small room well, but if you like really loud sound and / or want to use it in wider environments, I think the bent experience should be sensational. But of course, we are already talking about an investment of at least $ 700 in the US. No little thing.

The other feature that has not yet come to users is MultiRoom, which depends on whether AirPlay 2 technology reaches Apple operating systems. This will allow multiple HomePods, in different ways, to reproduce the same thing simultaneously.

All of this is under test and apparently about to arrive with iOS 11.4 and a possible new version of the HomePod system (known as “audioOS”, by the way). But the fact that, until the publication of this review, the thing was still in beta.

A mistake or a hit?

HomePod is not my first AirPlay equipped speaker. I have, here in the living room, a pair of Philips Fidelio SoundSpheres that are sensational and, even being bigger and two, much more powerful than my HomePod.

Do you know how many times I called Philips after HomePod arrived? An. To compare them. And the difference is precisely that: having to pick up a remote control, turn on and wait for the boxes to start and connect to Wi-Fi before they are available for use. The experience with HomePod and basically all of these smart speakers Today they are always ready to hear a voice command, receive a broadcast via AirPlay, or even serve as a wireless speaker for Apple TV.

Since HomePod won its captive rack post here in the living room, it has been used frequently by me, my wife, and even my little girl. When I'm alone I like to put the volume on the stem (sorry, neighbors!), but we enjoyed hearing things together and he also served us beautifully as ambient sound at parties / dinners we had around here.

I seriously think when the appeal Fullroom finally implemented, investing in a second HomePod and selling my Philips. If it works as Apple is promising, it must be sensational.

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Official Image:

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So no, I can not say that HomePod is a mistake. What is also far from putting it as a finished or excellent product, especially when we consider that one of its bases is Siri. And that is one of the great strengths of this product: at least in the short / medium term, most (or all) of its evolution can be exclusively via software updates. Some things we can already list, in no specific order:

  • Official arrival of Fullroom It's from MultiRoomwith AirPlay 2;
  • Calendar support associated with the user's Apple ID;
  • Possibility of making voice calls / calls via FaceTime;
  • Possibility of activating and multiple terms timers simultaneous;
  • Unlikely to open your Bluetooth layer to any device;
  • A new, refurbished and truly intelligent Siri;
  • User speech recognition, answering certain (personal) commands only to the owner;
  • Opening an SDK with support for other apps, such as Uber, and streaming such as Spotify.

Realize that all this just software. HomePod's hardware is solid and it has a more than capable processor to receive such news and improvements for years to come.

As the hardware itself in power / duty evolve. Of course you can, even the line itself may gain a smaller / more affordable model, according to rumors. But it's definitely not the hardware that determines HomePod's negatives today. And Apple has to explore / leverage this if it wants to gain some relevance in the segment.

Apple needed this product. All of her major competitors had already plunged headlong into this, and after the AirPods were launched (a tremendous success and undoubtedly a “rounder” accessory than HomePod, even though it was in its first generation), she needed it too. It is a device for the home / family that is dedicated not only to Apple Music, but also HomeKit.

Phil Schiller launching HomePod

So yes, I would say it is a hit only that one is still under development, because it is definitely not possible to nail down today that HomePod is the best product in its category and not the one that offers the best value for money to consumers. It should only be the choice of those, as we here of the , are wholly linked to Apple's ecosystem, and most of all, can glimpse software developments such as the ones I listed above.

The fact that, understanding exactly what HomePod today (knowing Siri and knowing its limitations), no one who buys it will be disappointed. I would say the exact opposite, by the way: his quality and power really impress, and anyone who has never had a virtual assistant available 24/7 at home may find this new experience somewhat curious / interesting.

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