I love me some connected speakers. I've got almost every speaker Sonos has released spread throughout my home. I've got every Amazon Echo ever sold. (Including, yes, the Look.) I've got all three entries in the Google Home line.
I am, as the kids say, a fan of the audios. (The kids don't say that? Well, they should.)
So I was very much looking forward to the Apple HomePod. I mean, sure. On one hand you wouldn't even have to buy the thing to know that the following things would be true:
- HomePod would sound great.
- HomePod would look great.
- HomePod would treat Apple's own devices and services first, and everybody else's second.
- HomePod would cost more than it should.
OK, so we got surprised on that last part. At $350, HomePod is priced very competitively for a speaker of its caliber.
But it also comes with some pretty serious caveats. If you're not all-in on Apple stuff — iPhone or iPod, Siri, and Apple Music — don't even bother at this point. In fact, you can boil it down even further. What device do you use most often to play music? If it's not an iPhone or iPad, don't bother.
If you're a fan of flooding your home with music, with the same thing playing at the same time in multiple rooms (and I should point out that I mean wirelessly, having helped my father run what seemed like miles of speaker cable in our homes back in the 1980s), then don't bother.
Same goes for using HomePod with AppleTV. Sure, it'll work. But you don't get the same room-filling sound, and that means your TV sounds like it's got a single speaker set to one side. Which it does. And that's no way to go through life.
HomePod is good at doing a few specific things. Apple Music and Siri, and Siri controlling Apple Music. That's it. (OK, it's also good at mucking up certain finishes on certain wood surfaces. But enough nerds have shed enough blood over that one already.)
AirPlay 2 will help, whenever it's actually released. And the adage is as true now as it ever was — buy a device for what it does today, not what it might do in the future.
Sonos still rules at whole-home music. (To say nothing of it supporting a ridiculous number of services.) Google Home one-ups Amazon in the audio quality department, and I prefer it for all the smart home stuff. But Amazon Echo also isn't going anywhere any time soon, and it's still a great option for a lot of folks.
But HomePod? You're going to have to want it. For now, it's for the Apple Faithful only.
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Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days.