HomePod hands on account finds sound superior to competitors, data only read to main user

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2018
A one-hour hands on period with the HomePod found sound quality beating out offerings from Google, Amazon, and Sonos, with security provisions preventing personal information from being read aloud by the HomePod when the primary user's main device isn't on the home network, preventing other users in the house from getting calendar items read or other personal notifications.




Refinery29 spent an hour with Apple's HomePod. During the brief examination, the ability of the HomePod to read and send texts, plus set up reminders through Siri voice commands was examined.

During the testing period, it was discovered that not only will the notifications not be read when the user's primary device isn't connected to the network, but they can be disabled in HomeKit settings to turn off the notifications entirely. Other points of interest include an improved Siri with correct pronunciation of music-related topics, and useful information about band members and albums.

Additionally, the author reports that Siri sounds even better than the improved voice that debuted in iOS 11, with "only a few instances" of "awkward phrasing."

The author also claims that the sound quality on the HomePod was superior to that of the Google Home Max, the latest Amazon Echo, and Sonos One -- but little information was given about the test environment or the tracks listened to by the evaluator. Specifically, vocals were "consistently crisper and clearer" on the HomePod, with a "robust thump-thump" from bass notes as one would desire.

Apple's $349 HomePod was revealed at the 2017 WWDC with pre-orders starting on Friday, with shipments commencing on Feb. 9. The HomePod is powered by an Apple A8 chip featuring realtime acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancelation. It also features a subset of Siri, optimized for music consumption.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    They should rename this product Apple Robust Thump-Thump.
    smack416mknelsonStrangeDayszroger73rare commenth2pcaladanianoneof52cgWerksfastasleep
  • Reply 2 of 31
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,570member

    Does this imply that the Google product would tell a person in your house about your meeting or to-do items if you not home. I like the fact the someone could not ask the Siri to tell them what my schedule looks like, I may had date with my girlfriend and would not want my wife to know about it.

    In all seriousness, this is stuff Google does not think about, they through so much at a wall and wait to see if it stick or falls off. They apologies when they screw their customers, ops sorry I meant to say product since we are their product not their customer.

    edited January 2018 h2pbshanklostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 31
    They should rename this product Apple Robust Thump-Thump.
    10/10
    king editor the gratezroger73caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 31
    So does anyone know if sales go live at 12:01 like, say, an iPhone launch?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 31
    maestro64 said:

    Does this imply that the Google product would tell a person in your house about your meeting or to-do items if you not home. I like the fact the someone could not ask the Siri to tell them what my schedule looks like, I may had date with my girlfriend and would not want my wife to know about it.

    In all seriousness, this is stuff Google does not think about, they through so much at a wall and wait to see if it stick or falls off. They apologies when they screw their customers, ops sorry I meant to say product since we are their product not their customer.

    I just tested it out by putting on a funny voice. It would tell me the weather but when I asked for my calendar, it said it couldn't verify my voice. You can train multiple voices though so I assume it can read two difference calendars
    avon b7watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
     So as an Apple fanatic, I really want this HomePod, but I can’t justify needing it unless it replaces my sound bar for the television or my speakers for my iMac.  I checked yesterday and found that my TV has Bluetooth built-in, so does that mean I could pair it to HomePod? I assume pairing it to my iMac to use as my computer speakers would be fairly easy correct?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 31
    PhillyJim said:
     So as an Apple fanatic, I really want this HomePod, but I can’t justify needing it unless it replaces my sound bar for the television or my speakers for my iMac.  I checked yesterday and found that my TV has Bluetooth built-in, so does that mean I could pair it to HomePod? I assume pairing it to my iMac to use as my computer speakers would be fairly easy correct?
    I suspect that using it as a soundbar connected via bluetooth will result in a lag. I vaguely recall that this is one of the problems AirPlay was meant to solve (where all speakers on AirPlay are in sync). Don't get me started on trying to figure out why AirPlay 2 (which mostly seems to add multiple speakers on iOS as MacOS already supports multiple speakers) is so delayed.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 8 of 31
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 195member
    "...robust thump-thump"

    Well, color me sold. 
    king editor the gratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 31
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,071member
    The only remaining question is:

    White or Space Gray?
    watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 10 of 31
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 589member
    Seems to me, the sound quality has to beat B&W, and the large Sonos speakers (not the One). If people can not replace their main music speakers, they can’t explain why spending £320 instead of £30 for a Dot. 
    Anyone know if the sound is really properly good?
    DavidAlGregory
  • Reply 11 of 31
    I would hope a $349 speaker sounds superior to one that you can get for $79.
    Scot1
  • Reply 12 of 31
    I wonder if the improvements to Siri's voice and speech will eventually get extended to Alex. I'd like to have articles on my Mac read more naturally, especially when reading a PDF and having him get stuck on all those end-of-line dashes that split words.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,618member
    maestro64 said:

    Does this imply that the Google product would tell a person in your house about your meeting or to-do items if you not home....

    this is stuff Google does not think about.

    No it would not. Google Home responds to a specific voice for account-linked services. My wife whose voice is also set up with our Google Home units cannot request my calendar events, or check my reminders, nor access any other personal information linked to my account. I can't access hers either as it requires her voice be recognized for that.

    Very recent example: I had a reminder set for 6am this morning to take out the garbage. Seems benign enough, right? Doesn' matter. It was my reminder so instead of Google Home simply announcing. "take out the garbage" it dinged at 6am and then said "I have a reminder for (user*). The message itself was not announced until I asked "what's the reminder" and my voice was recognized. I encountered this with Harmony TV control too. My wife heard me use Google Home to change channels, adjust volume, request a show on Netflix, turn on/off the TV and such. So at bedtime she used the same "Turn off the TV" as I do. Sorry, Google didn't have my permission for my wife to use Harmony and wouldn't allow the TV off.  I had to go in and allow linking to her account too for it to work. Our son can turn off lights, check the weather, ask a question and other common non-personal activities by voice using Google Home, but has zero access to any of my account information, nor my wife's. So yeah "Google thought about it" 

    I dislike it when folks use implied statements leading you or other readers to infer certain facts, but stop short of claiming them as fact themselves because... well... they aren't. It leans towards dishonesty. 
    edited January 2018 cgWerksFoliowlym
  • Reply 14 of 31
    sflagel said:
    Seems to me, the sound quality has to beat B&W, and the large Sonos speakers (not the One). If people can not replace their main music speakers, they can’t explain why spending £320 instead of £30 for a Dot. 
    Anyone know if the sound is really properly good?
    Have a nice Focal system connected to the Apple TV (using DIRECTVNOW) and there is no way the Toilet Paper Roll in Fishnets is going to sound better.
    Add a Dot to what you got and tell Apple no sale.

    Tell Phil, Jony and Tim to come over to the house and hear what a speaker can sound like- not by DSP- but by great design and craftsmanship.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    PhillyJim said:
     So as an Apple fanatic, I really want this HomePod, but I can’t justify needing it unless it replaces my sound bar for the television or my speakers for my iMac.  I checked yesterday and found that my TV has Bluetooth built-in, so does that mean I could pair it to HomePod? I assume pairing it to my iMac to use as my computer speakers would be fairly easy correct?
    Why would you want to use Bluetooth connection for TV sound? It kills the multi-channel sound, let say DTS 5.1. The HDMI (ARC) and Optical connection are designed to maximize the theater sound experience. So, use that. Dedicated hardware is always better than multi-task ones.
    lolliver
  • Reply 16 of 31
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    sflagel said:
    Seems to me, the sound quality has to beat B&W, and the large Sonos speakers (not the One). If people can not replace their main music speakers, they can’t explain why spending £320 instead of £30 for a Dot. 
    Anyone know if the sound is really properly good?
    Have a nice Focal system connected to the Apple TV (using DIRECTVNOW) and there is no way the Toilet Paper Roll in Fishnets is going to sound better.
    Add a Dot to what you got and tell Apple no sale.

    Tell Phil, Jony and Tim to come over to the house and hear what a speaker can sound like- not by DSP- but by great design and craftsmanship.
    Troll all you want. The HomePod is not intended for that stupid use with TV, but as stand-alone smart speaker. Go to Sonos Play:3 is $300, Google HomeMax is $400 and they sound suck compared to HomePod. Go troll those first because they're available NOW.
    shark5150watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 17 of 31
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,264member
    sflagel said:
    Seems to me, the sound quality has to beat B&W, and the large Sonos speakers (not the One). If people can not replace their main music speakers, they can’t explain why spending £320 instead of £30 for a Dot. 
    Anyone know if the sound is really properly good?
    Are you high? You are high, amiright?  Who says the HomePod is meant to replace discrete stereo speakers? You are not comparing apples to apples. You apparently can't envision more than one use case for having/adding a HomePod. But that's ok. If it's not for you, it's not for you.

    And if you're namedropping B&W, why not throw in Wharfdale and Tannoy while you're at it. Clearly the HomePod won't sound 'proper good' to you regardless. And if I missed the silent /s tag, then I 'apologise'.
    edited January 2018 shark5150watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 18 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,863member
    Most of Apple's major product categories could be multi-user, but won't be and don't need to be (like the iPhone and iPad), but others should truly be designed around multi-user support (like the Apple TV and HomePod).

    "Secondly, although everyone in your apartment will be able to use the speaker, only the person who sets up HomePod on their iCloud account will be able to send texts, set up reminders, and add notes via voice commands. Google Home and Amazon Echo, meanwhile, can recognize different voices and provide personalized content accordingly. (If you do set up personal notifications on HomePod, these will only be available when you are on the network, so you don’t need to worry about your texts being read aloud at home when you are at work. If you don’t want them read aloud when you’re home, you can go into your HomeKit settings and turn off the notifications.)"

    edited January 2018
  • Reply 19 of 31
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,191member
    I guess I'm going to have to go find a Sonos One to listen to get some idea of what these will sound like... as I have no idea what that level of sound quality is (which this is supposedly better).

    fallenjt said:
    Troll all you want. The HomePod is not intended for that stupid use with TV, but as stand-alone smart speaker. Go to Sonos Play:3 is $300, Google HomeMax is $400 and they sound suck compared to HomePod. Go troll those first because they're available NOW.
    So, you've heard a HomePod? Please give us a qualitative report. (kettle, we've found pot over here!)

    macgui said:
    Are you high? You are high, amiright?  Who says the HomePod is meant to replace discrete stereo speakers? You are not comparing apples to apples. You apparently can't envision more than one use case for having/adding a HomePod. But that's ok. If it's not for you, it's not for you.
    True, but for $350, I think it's going to have to sound as good or better than other small speaker systems or 'smart' speakers in the ~$300-400 range. If it sounds like a $99 speaker(s) just with Siri, it isn't going to cut it.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,863member
    cgWerks said:
    I guess I'm going to have to go find a Sonos One to listen to get some idea of what these will sound like... as I have no idea what that level of sound quality is (which this is supposedly better).
    The first question is: Can two Sonos Ones be made to sound better than a single HomePod?
    Foliotenthousandthingslolliver
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