In my house, we may all own Macs and iPhones, but we listen to Sonos speakers and talk to Alexa. I've been a die-hard Sonos fan since 2014, and Alexa came into our lives somewhat accidentally, after I had to test an Echo Dot for work. Regardless of their entry into my life, I now rely on both for my day-to-day interactions.
I wrote off Apple's HomePod after its delay, largely because I'd just purchased a Sonos One and I didn't see the need for a doubly-expensive speaker that wouldn't integrate with my current network. But after having the chance to listen to HomePod, I'm starting to waver.
For one, the HomePod sounds incredible, especially given its close-to-Sonos-One footprint. It's the speaker's sound — and the way its A8 chip separates both channels and frequency to deliver incredible audio — that moved me from the "niche product I'll never buy" category to "I want it for my living room."
And while I've used Alexa for almost two years, I don't love the privacy I give up by letting the service log every query I make (and tie it to my Amazon ID).
But HomePod isn't perfect. It won't support multi-room audio at launch — something my Sonos speakers have done for years — nor can I use Siri to launch a Spotify playlist, if I'm so inclined. Maybe the worst offender? Siri on HomePod isn't launching with multiple timer support: It's still limited to just a single timer. Though you can set multiple alarms instead, it's just not the same when you're cooking. (Heck — that skill alone sold me on Alexa after just a day with the Echo Dot.)
Needless to say: While I'm much warmer on HomePod than I was before listening to it, I'm still not sure if it can serve as a proper replacement for my Alexa system.
Lucky for me (and you), Apple offers a no-questions-asked 15-day return policy for most of its hardware. Whether you want a private HomePod listening test or you (like me) are curious to see whether it can handle everything you've used other assistants for, it might be worth ordering the speaker from Apple's website. Short of you breaking the thing, you can return the HomePod online or to any Apple Store if you decide Siri doesn't strike your fancy or it doesn't blow you away with full-room sound.
I'm of course hoping that once in my home it wows me the way it did when I first listened to it. All the same: If it doesn't, it's nice to know that I can give it a solid try on my terms — and send it back to Apple for someone who might love it more if it doesn't work out for me.
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