So..I bought a HomePod

homepod
#1

Yes, I thought it was over priced. I am frustrated that it doesn’t have any audio-input source and is a half-baked smart speaker. But I was I treated by the idea of Siri Shortcuts coming at WWDC and I was in the market for a better speaker for my home office. So, she n I found a deal on eBay, I decided to pull the plug.

Turns out…I’m mostly happy. The sound that one HomePod can put out is pretty amazing. I re-activated my $25/year iTunes Match subscription and HomePod can (usually) play all the music in my iTunes Library. (I still have no interest in Apple Music).

What really blows me away is the ability of the HomePod to recognize your voice in a variety of situations. From just about anywhere in a room, even the next room over I can speak in a normal voice and say, “Hey Siri…” and it will hear me. Since all my smart home devices (the lone exception being my Nest Thermostat) are HomeKit enabled I can control my entire smart house from the HomePod. I’m already finding it picks up my voice much more reliability and with a lot less effort than the Amazon Echo. While it can’t do everything an Echo can, it’s about 70% of the way now for my regular usage and I’m hoping Siri Shortcuts will take it another 20%.

There are some downsides. As mentioned above, it really is a sub-par smart speaker. It is missing many of the features found on other smart speakers. It can’t recognize multiple voices, it can’t set multiple timers, it has a very limited set of features and is crippled even compared to Siri on iOS, and Siri can be really annoying with her constant cute responses. I will also tell you there are some things on the HomePod that just don’t work consistently for me.

For example, I have never been able to get Siri to tell me the news and there are a handful of songs in my iCloud Music Library that she will sometimes not play. Siri will tell me she’s going to play my NPR news briefing or play the song and then nothing happens. (If anyone has any ideas for a solution, let me know. I’ve already reset, re-paired and factory restored the HomePod to no avail.)

Overall, I’ve been happy with my purchase, but I bought my HomePod refurbished from BestBuy on eBay and saved about $100. That helped dramatically in the decision to buy. I hope my investment in the HomePod doesn’t turn out to go the way of the iPod Hi-Fi.

If you want to hear more…I discuss this on the upcoming show 436 that will be released Sunday night/Monday morning.

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#2

I’m seriously wobbling on the HomePod fence right now. Admittedly they don’t sell them in Austria but I can get one in the UK easily enough (and I speak English with my smart devices anyway). The shortcuts are very tempting, and Alexa has been struggling with my HomeKit setup.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in 436!

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#3

I ordered a second one - refurbished, from Best Buy, around $250 US. Couldn’t help myself. :wink: I will sometimes use it as a stereo pair, and sometimes in a different room. Maybe I’ll move it to my guest room when I have company staying. :smiley:

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#4

I want one, but it’s not in the cards for now. Maybe it’ll be under the tree at Christmastime!

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#5

I was very lukewarm on the HomePod, but bought one after Airplay 2 finally shipped. (I justified it, as a developer of audio apps, because of the need to test against it. Although my AppleTV also does Airplay 2 now, so I guess maybe I also wanted it for fun, a little, too :wink: )

I’m more impressed than I thought I would be. The sound quality, at least to my non-audiophile ears, is very good. I did an A-B test for my wife, playing the same smashing pumpkins song with lots of deep strings on our old Echo and the new HomePod, and it’s not even close.

Siri is… better… with the enhanced microphone array. Still not as good as Alexa, IMHO, but worlds better than on the phone. But I’m actually controlling it with the music app on my phone more than with Siri, which is a really smooth experience.

Also, Airplay 2 and the whole new audio routing system is very nice. I’m seriously considering getting another one just because it’s so easy to route audio from anywhere to anywhere in the system from the iPhone’s lock screen. Piping my Apple TV audio to the kitchen HomePod while I’m watching a baseball game is amazing.

One surprise to me: the spookily impressive “hey Siri” listening feature is actually a bit of a double-edged sword. I was in the shower, with the door open and my iPhone by the sink. A text came in. I said, “Hey Siri, read me that message,” which has always worked before. But this time HomePod, 3 rooms over, heard me and took over the query, and although I could hear it answering, I had no chance of making out what it was saying. I really wish Apple would let you set wake words the way the Echo does. I could have one for my phone and one for my HomePod and then there’d be no misunderstanding.

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#6

I really like our HomePod. We use it for controlling HomeKit devices extensively, and yes we’d love for Siri’s capabilities on the HomePod to be improved. The sound is really great and Siri almost always responds promptly and accurately. I’m hoping we’ll see software revisions that build on what we have, and I’m curious to see how shortcut integration pans out. We really need multi-user support, so that everyone’s shortcuts are available, and it’s unclear if you’ll need to enable personal requests for shortcuts to work.

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#7

I have owned HomePod since day one. Love the sound.

My biggest problems occur integrating it with my TV (and it’s sound system) and Apple TV. Frankly, it’s been a confusing mess and much too convoluted to detail in this forum, but generally I find myself playing a continuous “Rubik’s Cube shuffle” in settings to make things work.

Siri commands to my Hue lighting works flawlessly (provided I get my syntax correct), and depending upon my “Rubik’s Cube” setting, I can easily request news, weather, etc.

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#8

I really like mine and it has totally ingrained itself in my processes as I switched a lot of my automation to HomeKit. I do wish it was a tad less expensive so I could get more and build out the system a bit. I still think Sonos might have a place in my setup for quite a while.

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#9

The sound quality is incredible, and the range of musical genres supported by acoustics is matched by what is available on the Music service.

At the same time, I would really like to be able to listen to audio from 3rd party applications like TuneIn or Audible without an external device. I should be able to use a HomePod as an external speaker for my iMac without distracting lag.

On the other hand, my kids are able to play music by just requesting it with their voice and can’t break anything. Plenty of fun family dance parties where they can pick the playlist. Just don’t tell your kids there are audio recordings of flatulence on Music, or they will play them over and over. Loudly.

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#10

If you like the sound from the HomePod I would encourage you to consider getting a second to set up as a stereo pair.

I bought a HomePod when it was released as a replacement for my old office speakers, and was happy with the sound, but thought I’d treat myself to a second recently when stereo pairing was released.

The sound quality is better than I was expecting - after setting it up I spent an hour just randomly picking out songs from my iTunes library with a big smile on my face.

I don’t use any of the ‘smart’ features beyond ‘Hey Siri, play some music’, so the Siri limitations don’t bother me.

One thing that is currently an odd limitation is that macOS sound preferences can’t output to the HomePods as a stereo pair. You can send the sound output from your mac to either HomePod individually, just not as a pair. I tend to play music on the HomePods via iTunes on the mac, and that does support the stereo pair (presumably via AirPlay 2). No idea if that is relying on my Apple Music subscription to work though. Is iTunes streaming the music to the HomePods, or just acting as a remote control and telling the HomePods to ‘play this music’ which they stream themselves?

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#11

After a little playing around, iTunes is acting as a ‘remote control’ in this situation, so playing music from iTunes on a stereo pair is relying on Apple Music and/or my iCloud music library.

You can stream sound output from an iOS device to a HomePod stereo pair with no problem, so you can for example, watch Netflix on an iPad with sound output to the HomePods, but not from a Mac.

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#12

The easiest way I’ve found for adjusting audio from TV to HomePod (other devices) is, at the TV home screen press and hold play/pause button. A pop up will appear allowing you to send audio to HomePod, another TV, or you can select multiple sources. Helps avoid having to bury yourself in the settings menu all the time.

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#13

Thanks @Timb. I’ll try that tonight.

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#14

I’m a huge fan of the HomePod. (We now have 4: 2 set up as mono, 2 as a stereo pair, which is awesome for music.) Your problem getting the news is puzzling: I just said “hey siri, tell me the news” and it started playing NPR as expected. I also tried “hey siri, play the Daily podcast from the new york times” and got what I expected. I don’t play news every day on HomePod, but I can’t recall it ever failing. I play tech podcasts nearly every day and these work consistently as long as I say “hey siri, play the podcast ”. I encourage anyone who has a HomePod w/o Apple Music to accept the free trial and really dig in. I doubt Apple will ever be able to come up with another product that provides as much pleasure as HomePod + Apple Music.

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#15

I’m really enjoying using mine in the home office. Felt the ease of use compared to using the Sonos app made it a winner. So much so I sold the Play 1 and picked up another one used for the kitchen. Much easier for the family to share their music via AirPlay.

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#16

I have one since wednesday but I think I pick up another one. They are really great!

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#17

You’re tempting me! It’s ~4 hours to Munich on the train!

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#18

I should also mention - I bought a set of coasters for my HomePod as I have mine sitting on a nice piece of furniture and didn’t want to risk damaging the surface. It’s really unforgivable that this is an issue. But I’m glad it came out in the early reviews and I didn’t learn about it the hard way.

I picked up set of faux-leather coasters from Amazon that fit the base of the HomePod and were unobtrusive. (They come in brown or black.) I actually liked them better than my current coasters so I piced up a second set so after I used them with my growing HomePod family I would have enough to use for drinks!

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#19

I’ve been exposed to too much quality HiFi in my life to be tempted by these. Maybe when the Smart features improve - Siri shortcuts may make a difference. I just can’t think of any use case at this moment.

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#20

I ordered mine the first day they were available and have enjoyed it every day since. I live in a “tiny house” so having just the one fills it pretty good though I’m sometimes tempted to get a second for stereo. Eventually maybe. Just a single HomePod really fills this space nicely. I use it for music and with the AppleTV as well as for controlling a couple lights and plugs. Podcasts play great and like many have mentioned, the microphone is excellent.

Something that surprised me is that I tend to use AirPlay far more than I expected. I don’t do as well as I’d like choosing music from memory. I tend to use the Remote app on my iPad which is nearly always at arms length . I’ve got iTunes on my Mac set to stream to HomePod so I open remote and browse through visually. Works perfectly. Same for playing podcasts. I’m just in the habit of browsing the most recent episodes and picking visually so I usually do that from my iPhone and Airplay.

One final note, as a couple have mentioned, it’s amazing to be able to use any device to remote control Airplay from any other device. I can control podcast playback on my iPhone with my watch. Or playback from iTunes on the Mac with iPad or iPhone. While I usually use the remote app for that I can also use the control panel. Oh, and AppleTV playback via voice if I want because HomePod, when used as a speaker for AppleTV can pause, play, fast forward, rewind, etc. They all play so well together.

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