Excerpts from the HomePod reviews I’ve seen. More as they come in.
Geoffrey Fowler, Washington Post: Five things to know before you buy an Apple HomePod. No matter how much boom-boom Apple packed into the $350 HomePod, it can’t make up for poor old Siri, which somehow became even more dopey. Inside this speaker, Siri can’t even do all the things it stumbles through on an iPhone, Apple Watch and Mac. The HomePod was years in the making and delayed months before it finally arrived Friday — yet it still feels like an unfinished product.
John Gruber, Daring Fireball: HomePod. I’ve been testing Apple’s new HomePod for the last week or so, and this is the first product review I’ve written that could be accurately summarized in the length of a tweet, and an old-school 140-character tweet at that: HomePod does exactly what Apple says it does, doesn’t do anything more than what Apple says it does, and costs $349. There.
Nicole Nguyen, Buzzfeed: A Smart Speaker For iPhone Users Only. The HomePod is a Siri-powered speaker with powerful bass and killer features for iPhone users, but it has flawed “smart” functionality that falls short of its competitors.
Matthew Panzarino, A four-sentence HomePod review. [No. 2.] As a smart speaker, it offers best-in-class voice recognition, vastly outstripping the ability of other smart speakers to hear you trying to trigger a command at a distance or while music is playing, but its overall flexibility is stymied by the limited command sets that the Siri protocol offers.
Brian X. Chen, New York Times: Apple’s HomePod Has Arrived. Don’t Rush to Buy It. 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. Siri doesn’t even work as well on HomePod as it does on the iPhone.
James Titcomb, The Telegraph: Sounds better than it listens. Apple’s HomePod sounds superb. It also doesn’t play the radio.
Edward Baig, USA Today: Apple’s pricey HomePod sounds great but exacts some tradeoffs. Besides Apple Music ($9.99 per month), you can have Siri play music you’ve purchased through iTunes, but unless you also subscribe to iTunes Match ($24.99 a year), not the songs in your library that you may have ripped off CDs way back when or imported from some other source.
Megan Wollerton, CNET: Great sound, but it’s trapped in Apple’s world. Apple’s HomePod won’t slay Amazon Alexa out of the gate. But if you’re an iPhone user who prizes sound quality above all, you should seriously consider this speaker.
Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal: Super Sound, but Not Super Smart. Apple’s $350 smart speaker has a sensational voice but needs to work on its brain.
Nilay Patel, The Verge: Locked in. Unless you live entirely inside Apple’s walled garden and prioritize sound quality over everything else, I think you’re better served by other smart speakers that sound almost as good and offer the services and capabilities that actually fit your life.
My take: This device sounds like a work in progress.