But in almost every other aspect, the HomePod seemed to have fallen short.
For one, Siri is just not smart enough to compete with Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home assistant, creating frustrations for reviewers. The HomePod does have features the Amazon Echo or Google Home don’t, such as the ability to play podcasts at a faster speed or use voice to send iMessages and WhatsApp texts, according to Buzzfeed’s Nicole Nguyen. But there are many more restrictions to using HomePod as a home assistant, such as not being able to hail an Uber ride or to schedule a meeting on a calendar, according to the New York Times.
One of the worst HomePod limitations is its inability to distinguish different voices, meaning anyone can ask the HomePod to read or send text messages on behalf of the HomePod owner if the owner said yes to all the setup prompts, according to the Verge.
“Until Apple adds personalized voice recognition to this thing, you should definitely turn personal requests off,” said Patel.
Another shared complaint was the HomePod’s straitjacket boundaries when using non-Apple apps. WhatsApp is supported by Siri, but beyond that very few apps are. For users of Spotify, Apple Music’s main competitor and a music streaming service with nearly twice more global subscribers, the only way to play tunes is by using an iPhone or Mac and connecting to the HomePod via AirPlay.
Apple Music can be controlled by voice commands to Siri.
“If you don’t like Apple Music, don’t buy a HomePod,” said Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch.
But Apple Music subscribers with Android phones get shortchanged because Apple Music integration only works when there is a matching iPhone in the same Wi-Fi network. The HomePod does not have Bluetooth support to allow Android phones to wirelessly connect with the HomePod.
With such self-imposed borders, there is a limited demographic that can truly harness the power of the HomePod.
“The HomePod is designed for someone with 100 percent Apple product buy-in, who lives in the iOS/Mac ecosystem, who subscribes to Apple Music, and who just wants basic smart speaker features,” writes Nguyen at Buzzfeed. “Anyone else should consider other options.”