Introduction to the Apple HomePod
The Apple HomePod delivers stunning audio quality wherever it’s placed — in any room in the house, playing any style of music. Using just your voice, it’s easy and fun to use, and works together with an Apple Music subscription for a breakthrough music experience, providing access to one of the world’s largest cloud music libraries. Siri, now actively used on over half a billion devices, has developed a deep knowledge of music and understands your preferences and tastes. And with Siri, the Apple HomePod can send a message, set a timer, play a podcast, check the news, sports, traffic and weather, and even control a wide range of HomeKit smart home accessories.
At just under 7 inches tall, HomePod represents years of hardware and software innovation:
- Packed with Apple-engineered audio technology, HomePod uses advanced software for real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam-forming, echo cancellation and more, powered by Apple’s A8 chip, delivering a wide, spacious soundstage. Using spatial awareness to sense its location in the room, it automatically adjusts the audio to sound great wherever it is placed.
- HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with directional control, and powerful technologies that preserve the richness and intent of original recordings. With an array of six microphones, HomePod can hear “Hey Siri” from across the room, even when loud music is playing.
- Setup is as easy and intuitive as setting up AirPods — simply hold an iPhone next to HomePod and it’s ready to start playing music in seconds. The Siri waveform appears on the top to indicate when Siri is engaged, and integrated touch controls also allow easy navigation.
The design of the Apple HomePod is compact – a small, but weighty, speaker covered in a close mesh that almost feels rubbery under the hand. The mesh is lightweight to allow the sound out more effectively, and the white and space gray units are pretty subtle and rounded in an understated way.
In terms of what’s inside the speaker, you’ve got a lot going on – six microphones for Siri, seven tweeters, a woofer with a custom amplifier, a motor driving the diaphragm, and the Apple A8 chip inside.
The HomePod’s power cord is built in and wrapped in fabric, and on top, there are LED-backlit volume buttons and a “display” that isn’t really a display at all — it’s LEDs under a cloudy glass panel that diffuses them into a single blob of swirling colors. There’s no obvious way to make this area show anything with precise lines, like an interface; Apple told me it was designed to be a touch surface, not to display text. On the bottom is a hard, rubbery material. You need to place the HomePod on a hard, flat surface: most of its speakers fire down, and it sounds pretty bad if you set it on something uneven or soft. But most of the time, it sounds excellent.
Apple HomePod Sound Quality
Place the Apple HomePod in the middle of the room and you’ll get a 360-degree sound spreading all around, but move it to a wall and the speaker will work out what surfaces are nearby and split the sounds accordingly.
This means the background instruments and accompaniments will be reflected back, and the main vocals and instruments will be given a more powerful, direct route to your ears.
Unidirectionality of Sound
The HomePod provided true unidirectionality of sound, and the Echo is at the absolute back of the pack for audio quality. Walking around the HomePod from one corner of a room to another or around it in a circle is a really incredible experience. The sound does not fall off at any angle, and the characteristics of the audio don’t change. This just works.
Coming later this year
- Create stereo sound with a second HomePod.
- AirPlay 2. Add HomePod to more rooms.
Responds to your voice. And your touch.
Responds to your voice. And your touch.
Tap the top of HomePod to play, pause, skip a song, or adjust the volume. Touch and hold the top to talk to Siri. You’ll know Siri is listening by the LED waveform that animates with your every word.
Apple’s HomePod is easily the best sounding mainstream smart speaker ever. It’s got better separation and bass response than anything else in its size and boasts a nuance and subtlety of sound that pays off the 7 years Apple has been working on it.
Home to an intelligent assistant.
HomePod is great at playing your music. But it can also tell you the latest news, traffic, sports, and weather. Set reminders and tasks. Send messages. Hand off phone calls. And HomePod is a hub for controlling your smart home accessories — from a single light bulb to the whole house — with just your voice.
The HomePod isn’t just one speaker, it’s actually eight of them, all controlled by Apple’s own A8 processor and tons of custom software. There are seven tweeters that fire down and out from the bottom, and a single four-inch woofer pointing out of the top for low frequencies. There is also a total of seven microphones: six around the middle for Siri, and a seventh inside that measures the location of that woofer so Apple can precisely control the bass.
Once again, we come to the familiar question with Apple: is it worth spending your money on this product, or are you better off doing so on one that’s cheaper and does a lot of the same things, albeit without, perhaps, the same level of polish?
The Apple HomePod is a great speaker. It delivers rich, clear sound that will impress anyone who listens to it, and every facet of the way it’s designed and delivers audio has been well thought through.
There are other speakers that can do more – basically anything that has Alexa inside, as there are more smart home-enabled devices that are compatible with Amazon’s standard – and there are cheaper speakers that still sound pretty good.