HomePod review roundup: Apple's smart speaker sounds incredible, but Siri is lacking

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  • Reply 101 of 151
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,953member
    AppleZulu said:
    I would imagine this particular ‘limitation’ is at least in part related to Apple’s approach to security. Do you really want anyone who just happens to be passing through to be able to place or answer calls using to your cell phone number? I don’t think I do.
    Having somehow survived decades of having a telephone on my desk that any passer-by can use to place or answer a call, I don’t really see a security threat here.

    Besides, I can place a call from my Mac without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. Why would the HomePod not offer similar functionality?
    You don’t see a problem with someone else listening to your text messages when you’re not in the room? Your iPhone and Mac can and should be password protected, or Siri can be disabled on the lock screen as mine is; I assume the problem here is there is no locking, so the feature needs to either be on or off. If you live alone, no point in disabling it, but if it’s somewhere where several people have voice access.... I don’t see how that’s not a problem. I’ll just turn it off as I can already message people through the Watch etc.
  • Reply 102 of 151
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,208member
    John Gruber's full review is out:

    https://daringfireball.net/2018/02/homepod

    Summary; great if you are looking for something in the Apple ecosystem.

    Also mentioned that Siri works well with a normal voice while music is playing, and that devices negotiate with each other to determine which will respond to "Hey Siri".
  • Reply 103 of 151
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,387member
    Soli said:
    What's this obsession with using smart speakers for recipes?  Maybe it's just me, but I like to see recipes not just get verbal instructions.  Therefore, I personally don't care how well Siri does or doesn't do recipes.

    I hope there is a way to turn off features.  That example anyone being able to text or read texts from the linked iPhone is troubling; the opportunities for practical jokes are endless.  "Siri, text [owner's boss] that I quit."
    It's not about "smart speakers" it's about a personal digital assistant. If you're scaling a recipe up or down and it's in American imperial units can you instantly scale every weird unit of measurement? What if you're busy cooking and you don't want to swap out a teaspoon for a tablespoon for a measurement? Can you do the conversions instantly in your head? What about using a mixing bowl on a scale and want to just add, say, lemon juice to the contents without having to measure it out in volume; do you know how many grams are in a cup of water? I couldn't answer any of those but any personal digital assistance should be able to answer these with extreme ease.

    What about the general use of having a personal digital assistant in the kitchen so you can set unlimited timers with a simple voice command, check to see who's at the front door without stopping what you're doing, changing your station, playing Jeopardy, and countless other things while a part of your brain is doing a certain skill but free for something else, or simply because your hands are full?
    Siri can do unit conversion, not sure why you’re implying it doesn’t. 
    I have no idea where you think I made any statement about what Siri can or can’t do.
  • Reply 104 of 151
    I think some of the reviews miss the mark. It isn’t whether one focused on smarts over sound it’s a trade off between sound and price. An Echo or Home don’t sound as good because the top priority was as cheap as possible to get in as many homes as possible. The question that should be asked of Apple is why didn’t they focus on both sound and smarts?  I’m guessing the people working on audio are not the same people working on Siri. Why wasn’t HomePod the product to showcase a much improved Siri so Apple could say Siri is just as smart as the competition but HomePod sounds so much better. I know Siri gets better through software but how many people are going to buy hardware with the promise of better software in the future?
    Who's to say Apple didn't improve Siri to showcase it on the homePod?

    FWIW, new beta releases dropped today for Xcode, iOS and tvOS (there must be a homePodOS in there somewhere).

    Lately, Apple has dropped public releases shortly after many betas.  

    I suspect that a variant of tvOS will be used on the homePod.


    Not one review I’ve seen mentions improved Siri capabilities.
    My point was that the reviewers haven’t seen new Siri capabilities — they would be in the new software drops.
    Why wouldn’t Apple have new Siri capabilities available at launch so they would be part of reviews? As if is now every review seems to have a “but” in the headline and that “but” is all around Siri smarts.
  • Reply 105 of 151
    I have to laugh at Android fanboys complaining about HomePod not allowing BT streaming while at the same time also complaining that Apple’s listening set up for the media was unfair to Google because apparently Apple used BT streaming for the Home Max.
  • Reply 106 of 151
    dsddsd Posts: 178member
    Philip Proctor
    Philip Proctor, worked at Firesign Theatre
    Because we've cut down all the trees…?The question came from a story a girlfriend told me. When a little tyke in Texas, she used to play with leprechauns in her backyard. She claims that one of them asked her this and then”"laughed and ran away.” It seemed like an unanswerable query and thus likely to confuse the Direct Readout Memory system (Dr. Memory) and thus crash the government computer that created the illusions in the Future Fair. Today we'd call it a “virus” and my character, the laid-off worker, Ah-Clem, a “hacker”…if you ask Siri that question she will sometimes respond, “"You can't shut me down that easily.” And if you say to her "This is worker speaking, hello.” She will respond, “Hello, Ah-Clem. What function can I perform for you. LOL”Thus is because Steve Jobs was a fan of the Firesign Theatre’s album “"I think we're all Bozos on this Bus”, which he revealed to me when I met him at the cast screening of a PIXAR movie for which I’d done voices…
    fastasleep
  • Reply 107 of 151
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,208member
    dsd said:
    Philip Proctor
    Philip Proctor, worked at Firesign Theatre

    Because we've cut down all the trees…?

    The question came from a story a girlfriend told me. When a little tyke in Texas, she used to play with leprechauns in her backyard. She claims that one of them asked her this and then”"laughed and ran away.” It seemed like an unanswerable query and thus likely to confuse the Direct Readout Memory system (Dr. Memory) and thus crash the government computer that created the illusions in the Future Fair. Today we'd call it a “virus” and my character, the laid-off worker, Ah-Clem, a “hacker”…

    if you ask Siri that question she will sometimes respond, “"You can't shut me down that easily.” And if you say to her "This is worker speaking, hello.” She will respond, “Hello, Ah-Clem. What function can I perform for you. LOL”

    Thus is because Steve Jobs was a fan of the Firesign Theatre’s album “"I think we're all Bozos on this Bus”, which he revealed to me when I met him at the cast screening of a PIXAR movie for which I’d done voices…

    Nice story.

    I was able to find "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers" and a couple fo other their books with the full scripts. Good times!.

    I think that my favorite was "Everything You Know is Wrong", with a close second, "I think that we're all Bozos on this Bus".

    I'm guessing that there are various groups out there that still do this stuff, possibly as podcasts, but I've never actually looked for it.
  • Reply 108 of 151
    AppleZulu said:
    I would imagine this particular ‘limitation’ is at least in part related to Apple’s approach to security. Do you really want anyone who just happens to be passing through to be able to place or answer calls using to your cell phone number? I don’t think I do.
    Having somehow survived decades of having a telephone on my desk that any passer-by can use to place or answer a call, I don’t really see a security threat here.

    Besides, I can place a call from my Mac without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. Why would the HomePod not offer similar functionality?
    You don’t see a problem with someone else listening to your text messages when you’re not in the room? Your iPhone and Mac can and should be password protected, or Siri can be disabled on the lock screen as mine is; I assume the problem here is there is no locking, so the feature needs to either be on or off. If you live alone, no point in disabling it, but if it’s somewhere where several people have voice access.... I don’t see how that’s not a problem. I’ll just turn it off as I can already message people through the Watch etc.
    My post was part of a discussion about how one cannot initiate a telephone call with HomePod. You're talking about text messages. Two different functions. What's good or bad for one is not automatically equivalent to the other. Initiating or answering a phone call with the HomePod is no different from a security perspective than having a phone on a desk or counter.
  • Reply 109 of 151
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,387member
    AppleZulu said:
    I would imagine this particular ‘limitation’ is at least in part related to Apple’s approach to security. Do you really want anyone who just happens to be passing through to be able to place or answer calls using to your cell phone number? I don’t think I do.
    Having somehow survived decades of having a telephone on my desk that any passer-by can use to place or answer a call, I don’t really see a security threat here.

    Besides, I can place a call from my Mac without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. Why would the HomePod not offer similar functionality?
    You don’t see a problem with someone else listening to your text messages when you’re not in the room? Your iPhone and Mac can and should be password protected, or Siri can be disabled on the lock screen as mine is; I assume the problem here is there is no locking, so the feature needs to either be on or off. If you live alone, no point in disabling it, but if it’s somewhere where several people have voice access.... I don’t see how that’s not a problem. I’ll just turn it off as I can already message people through the Watch etc.
    My post was part of a discussion about how one cannot initiate a telephone call with HomePod. You're talking about text messages. Two different functions. What's good or bad for one is not automatically equivalent to the other. Initiating or answering a phone call with the HomePod is no different from a security perspective than having a phone on a desk or counter.
    There's something in-between "telephone call" and "text message." Both Apple, Amazon (and countless others) have had device-to-device audio (and video) calls .
  • Reply 110 of 151
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    dsd said:
    Philip Proctor
    Philip Proctor, worked at Firesign Theatre
    Because we've cut down all the trees…?The question came from a story a girlfriend told me. When a little tyke in Texas, she used to play with leprechauns in her backyard. She claims that one of them asked her this and then”"laughed and ran away.” It seemed like an unanswerable query and thus likely to confuse the Direct Readout Memory system (Dr. Memory) and thus crash the government computer that created the illusions in the Future Fair. Today we'd call it a “virus” and my character, the laid-off worker, Ah-Clem, a “hacker”…if you ask Siri that question she will sometimes respond, “"You can't shut me down that easily.” And if you say to her "This is worker speaking, hello.” She will respond, “Hello, Ah-Clem. What function can I perform for you. LOL”Thus is because Steve Jobs was a fan of the Firesign Theatre’s album “"I think we're all Bozos on this Bus”, which he revealed to me when I met him at the cast screening of a PIXAR movie for which I’d done voices…
    I got the actual answer from Siri through Wolfram, and "You can't shut me down that easily", it's from a 1971 recording of "II think we're all Bozos on this Bus", even got the person in the play that said it  and to whom.

    So, chalk one up for Siri :-).

    MacPro
  • Reply 111 of 151
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,766member
    AppleZulu said:
    I would imagine this particular ‘limitation’ is at least in part related to Apple’s approach to security. Do you really want anyone who just happens to be passing through to be able to place or answer calls using to your cell phone number? I don’t think I do.
    Having somehow survived decades of having a telephone on my desk that any passer-by can use to place or answer a call, I don’t really see a security threat here.

    Besides, I can place a call from my Mac without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. Why would the HomePod not offer similar functionality?
    You don’t see a problem with someone else listening to your text messages when you’re not in the room? Your iPhone and Mac can and should be password protected, or Siri can be disabled on the lock screen as mine is; I assume the problem here is there is no locking, so the feature needs to either be on or off. If you live alone, no point in disabling it, but if it’s somewhere where several people have voice access.... I don’t see how that’s not a problem. I’ll just turn it off as I can already message people through the Watch etc.
    My post was part of a discussion about how one cannot initiate a telephone call with HomePod. You're talking about text messages. Two different functions. What's good or bad for one is not automatically equivalent to the other. Initiating or answering a phone call with the HomePod is no different from a security perspective than having a phone on a desk or counter.
    except the phone could be very far from the homepod, with WIFI very far indeed. So, if your not near your phone, someone could answer one of your calls without you knowing about it, doesn't seem like a good idea except if your alone at home and there is no one around.

    fastasleep
  • Reply 112 of 151
    foggyhill said:
    AppleZulu said:
    I would imagine this particular ‘limitation’ is at least in part related to Apple’s approach to security. Do you really want anyone who just happens to be passing through to be able to place or answer calls using to your cell phone number? I don’t think I do.
    Having somehow survived decades of having a telephone on my desk that any passer-by can use to place or answer a call, I don’t really see a security threat here.

    Besides, I can place a call from my Mac without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. Why would the HomePod not offer similar functionality?
    You don’t see a problem with someone else listening to your text messages when you’re not in the room? Your iPhone and Mac can and should be password protected, or Siri can be disabled on the lock screen as mine is; I assume the problem here is there is no locking, so the feature needs to either be on or off. If you live alone, no point in disabling it, but if it’s somewhere where several people have voice access.... I don’t see how that’s not a problem. I’ll just turn it off as I can already message people through the Watch etc.
    My post was part of a discussion about how one cannot initiate a telephone call with HomePod. You're talking about text messages. Two different functions. What's good or bad for one is not automatically equivalent to the other. Initiating or answering a phone call with the HomePod is no different from a security perspective than having a phone on a desk or counter.
    except the phone could be very far from the homepod, with WIFI very far indeed. So, if your not near your phone, someone could answer one of your calls without you knowing about it, doesn't seem like a good idea except if your alone at home and there is no one around.

    How is that any different than a landline? If I'm not around when the phone rings, someone else could answer it. What's the difference?

    For that matter, if I'm far enough away from my iPhone that the evil-doer near the HomePod knows I'm getting a call but I don't, it means someone else could pick my iPhone and answer it.

    I just don't buy into the notion that the HomePod's inability to initiate a call the same way my Mac can is in any way a "security feature." It's just something the Mac and iPad can do that the HomePod can't, period. It's not a big deal, but let's not dress it up as some kind of "feature."
    gatorguy
  • Reply 113 of 151
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,352member
    tmay said:
    John Gruber's full review is out:

    https://daringfireball.net/2018/02/homepod

    Summary; great if you are looking for something in the Apple ecosystem.

    Also mentioned that Siri works well with a normal voice while music is playing, and that devices negotiate with each other to determine which will respond to "Hey Siri".
    That is very impressive.  Obviously some very clever stuff going on with the sound processing

    The missing trick is multi-account support. I get why this isn’t such a big deal with the iPad, but this is supposed to sit in a family room, which kind of implies multiple users. 

    How does it handle family sharing, if at all?
  • Reply 114 of 151
    I have a good idea: Let those of us who receive our HomePods this Friday check it out firsthand, and give our own reviews instead of paying any attention to kvetching critics.
  • Reply 115 of 151
    croprcropr Posts: 854member
    tmay said:
    Soli said:
    kevin kee said:
    I would reserve my judgement after I use it myself. Lots of these reviews confirmed what I have known, which does not affect my decision whatsoever. Apple is playing safe, Siri is limited, so what? Siri and software can be improved, but not the hardware. Apple seems get the priority right.
    Why do people keep making such a ridiculous statement. HW improves all the fucking time. The common argument in 2007 for why the original iPhone was such a game changer despite not having the common '3G' network access was "they got the OS foundation right, and the HW will be improved every year." Adding more and better speakers to something is easiest part of this device. It's the SW that is complex and difficult, which is why the HomePod is being shipped with such a limited feature set.
    It's pretty obvious that he means a device once sold to a consumer is not going to be capable of a future hardware upgrade, but "Apple got the priority right" with the hardware of the HomePod. Just as Apple took the lead on 64bit SOC's, which has that effect of providing these iPhones a long life cycle, so does the hardware included today in the HomePod. It's engineered with a modern audio hardware architecture, and its usability is upgradeable over its lifecycle via software.
    But every new version of software only supports a limited number of existing hardware versions.  At the speed Siri is making progress,  it may well be that we get a good performing Siri with edition 3 of the HomePod, and that it is only backwards compatible with edition 2. 

    Just look how fast the original iPhone and iPad were no longer supported in newer versions of iOS.
  • Reply 116 of 151
    irelandireland Posts: 17,462member
    dewme said:
    When you compare these reviews to early iPad reviews it sounds like HomePod will be very successful and especially for those folks who are "all in" with Apple's music ecosystem.

    Some important points not mentioned in these reviews:

    - Siri can, and will, be improved over time through software updates. Siri will absolutely improve over time with new apps, better AI, and new capabilities.
    - Poor audio quality and inferior acoustics cannot be updated through software updates. What you get forever is only as good as it is on day one.

    So on the thing that should matter most to anyone interested in the best quality presentation of the music they love, i.e., audio performance and acoustics, the HomePod crushes the competition. Well done Apple.

    Since Echo is supposedly so much better than Siri maybe someone should ask it: "Alexa, why do you sound like crap?"   
    While this is true and worth mentioning, I don't think you need to defend the richest company around and it's important to review the product that ships, not the possible future software that could be created for it. Google, Amazon and all the other guys don't get this privilege either. Review the product that ships, do a new review if it gets major soft improvements. I don't need a €350 speaker right now as times are tight, but I am surprised just how good the audio quality seems to be. I hope Apple can use such talent to create a proper home Wifi solution in the future will a trifecta of pucks to blanket my home. Badly needed. Gurman wrote about Apple dismantling its wireless group but I'm still hopeful this story got it confused or entirely wrong.
    edited February 7
  • Reply 117 of 151
    irelandireland Posts: 17,462member
    cia said:
    I think this is pretty much what we all knew would happen here.   We all knew Apple would work to make the best sounding speaker possible, no surprise.   Everyone also knows Siri is a joke, and it would be the dumbest speaker out there (at launch at least).

    Beyond the most basic commands, Siri is pretty useless.  It almost never understands my questions or commands when used.
    I've a non-American accent and Siri speech recognition did not improve 1% in the almost one year since Siri has been tuned to our country's accents. It's one of there poorest products Apple ships, and yet I'm so lazy when it comes to typing on my iPhone I continue to use it. Almost everyone I know does not use it.
    edited February 7
  • Reply 118 of 151
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,322member
    tmay said:
    dsd said:
    Philip Proctor
    Philip Proctor, worked at Firesign Theatre

    Because we've cut down all the trees…?

    The question came from a story a girlfriend told me. When a little tyke in Texas, she used to play with leprechauns in her backyard. She claims that one of them asked her this and then”"laughed and ran away.” It seemed like an unanswerable query and thus likely to confuse the Direct Readout Memory system (Dr. Memory) and thus crash the government computer that created the illusions in the Future Fair. Today we'd call it a “virus” and my character, the laid-off worker, Ah-Clem, a “hacker”…

    if you ask Siri that question she will sometimes respond, “"You can't shut me down that easily.” And if you say to her "This is worker speaking, hello.” She will respond, “Hello, Ah-Clem. What function can I perform for you. LOL”

    Thus is because Steve Jobs was a fan of the Firesign Theatre’s album “"I think we're all Bozos on this Bus”, which he revealed to me when I met him at the cast screening of a PIXAR movie for which I’d done voices…

    Nice story.

    I was able to find "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers" and a couple fo other their books with the full scripts. Good times!.

    I think that my favorite was "Everything You Know is Wrong", with a close second, "I think that we're all Bozos on this Bus".

    I'm guessing that there are various groups out there that still do this stuff, possibly as podcasts, but I've never actually looked for it.
    I think I still I have some of those on vinyl around here. A big fan myself.

    Anyway, gotta go get an entrenching tool for my breakfast. Later....
  • Reply 119 of 151
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,322member
    foggyhill said:
    AppleZulu said:
    I would imagine this particular ‘limitation’ is at least in part related to Apple’s approach to security. Do you really want anyone who just happens to be passing through to be able to place or answer calls using to your cell phone number? I don’t think I do.
    Having somehow survived decades of having a telephone on my desk that any passer-by can use to place or answer a call, I don’t really see a security threat here.

    Besides, I can place a call from my Mac without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. Why would the HomePod not offer similar functionality?
    You don’t see a problem with someone else listening to your text messages when you’re not in the room? Your iPhone and Mac can and should be password protected, or Siri can be disabled on the lock screen as mine is; I assume the problem here is there is no locking, so the feature needs to either be on or off. If you live alone, no point in disabling it, but if it’s somewhere where several people have voice access.... I don’t see how that’s not a problem. I’ll just turn it off as I can already message people through the Watch etc.
    My post was part of a discussion about how one cannot initiate a telephone call with HomePod. You're talking about text messages. Two different functions. What's good or bad for one is not automatically equivalent to the other. Initiating or answering a phone call with the HomePod is no different from a security perspective than having a phone on a desk or counter.
    except the phone could be very far from the homepod, with WIFI very far indeed. So, if your not near your phone, someone could answer one of your calls without you knowing about it, doesn't seem like a good idea except if your alone at home and there is no one around.

    On Google Home for instance I can initiate a call using it, and so can my wife. It recognizes each of our voices. If my wife says "call Elaine" it places a call to her friend by that name. If I make the same request, "call Elaine", the call goes to my sister. But if Elaine calls we'll have to answer on our phones. Google Home doesn't accept phone calls, avoiding just the scenario you mention. 
  • Reply 120 of 151
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,378member
    I think some of the reviews miss the mark. It isn’t whether one focused on smarts over sound it’s a trade off between sound and price. An Echo or Home don’t sound as good because the top priority was as cheap as possible to get in as many homes as possible. The question that should be asked of Apple is why didn’t they focus on both sound and smarts?  I’m guessing the people working on audio are not the same people working on Siri. Why wasn’t HomePod the product to showcase a much improved Siri so Apple could say Siri is just as smart as the competition but HomePod sounds so much better. I know Siri gets better through software but how many people are going to buy hardware with the promise of better software in the future?
    In 2016 there were a lot of expectations for Apple to release their version of the Echo.    Even DED started off 2017 saying it would be the year of Siri.   I think Apple really didn't want to make a Siri Speaker and the HomePod is Apple's middle finger to all those people.

    It sounds like the audio of the HomePod is great on if your use case fits Apple's view of what you need.   If I knew that HomePod was the start of a family of products including a home theater speaker bar and a HomePod max that came with Bluetooth and an auxiliary line-in port I would be picking two of them up.   Smart audio that comes with ubiquitous computing.   Unfortunately I don't think that Apple will be doing that anytime in the near future.   Maybe in 3 to 5 years.   In the mean time I'll go with SONOS even if its a little bit more expnsive.

    I'm still hoping that Apple announces a major expansion of their Siri work.   Now that they have moved (or started moving) into the new Apple Park HQ they need to set up a new Siri Development center employing thousands more people.  They should be able to do every thing Alexa does and more (except buying products of course).
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