Jim Dalrymple’s HomePod Review

Jim Dalrymple:

I like this review from Jim, giving a personal use case of the HomePod with these tidbits:

Setting it up:

Apple is so good at giving us a quick and easy setup for devices and HomePod is no different.

When you plug in HomePod, you just need to hold your iPhone close to it and it will open a card asking if you want to set up the device.

Transfer your Accounts and Settings. This is your Siri preferences, Apple Music, Wi-Fi networks, etc.

And that’s it, HomePod is set up and ready to go. It took a couple of minutes, if that, and I was up and running.

On sound quality:

First and foremost, HomePod is a music speaker, and it excels at that task. I’ve compared HomePod to Sonos One, Google Max, and Amazon Echo to get a feeling for how each sounds in the same environment.

To be absolutely clear, there was no comparison in sound quality. HomePod offered so much more quality that it was quite literally laughable to hear the others. The only speaker that sounded decent was the Sonos One, but even it couldn’t compete with HomePod.

And this:

One of the other songs that I tested HomePod with was “Demons” by Jasmine Thompson. This is just her and a piano, so there isn’t a lot of bass, but there is a lot of treble, mids, and detail in her voice that HomePod could screw up.

It didn’t.

You could hear her breathe between lyrics. Everything was very clear and warm, which is critical for such a soft, meaningful song.

Personal music:

One thing about having multiple people access the HomePod that bothered me was that it would affect my “For You” section in Apple Music.

When you love songs, play songs and add songs to your library, Apple Music will suggest similar music, assuming that is what you want. If someone else, or a group of people come over and start playing genres you don’t like, it would screw everything up.

Well, it turns out I didn’t have to worry about that after all. There is a setting in the Home app that allows you to prevent the music played on HomePod from affecting the “For You” section of Apple Music.

On the microphones:

With Megadeth playing at 80 percent volume on HomePod (Yes, that’s loud), I stood 20-25 feet away and said “Hey Siri,” in a normal speaking voice. I expected no response. However, the music immediately lowers and Siri was ready for me to ask a question or give it an instruction.

Siri on which device:

If you have a number of different devices in the same room, you may wonder which Siri will respond to your request. For example, you set up a new HomePod, you’re wearing an Apple Watch, an iPad is on the table, and your iPhone is in your pocket.

Then you say, “Hey Siri.”

This is one of the really smart things that happens that we expect Apple to be able to figure out, and they did.

Siri polls all of your devices over Bluetooth to figure out which device should handle your request. Everything being equal, HomePod will respond. However, the system is smart enough to know if HomePod or another device should answer.

For instance, if you raise your wrist and say, “Hey Siri,” the combined devices will assume you want Siri on your Apple Watch. If you’re using your iPhone, then you probably want that device to respond. If you’re just sitting, not touching any device, then HomePod will take over.

That is very smart.

“It Sounded Like Cardboard”

David Pogue gets a sneak preview of the Apple HomePod:

In a devastatingly effective demo, Apple lines up four of these things: The Google Home Max ($400), Sonos One ($200), Amazon Echo ($100), and the HomePod. They’re volume-matched and rigged to an A/B/C/D switch, so a single song can hop from one to the other. (Apple even installed a halo backlight behind each speaker that illuminated to show you which one was playing.)

The HomePod sounded the best. Its bass, in particular, was amazing: full and deep, but also distinct and never muddy — you could hear the actual pitch of the bass notes, not just the thud. That, unsurprisingly, is where other small speakers have trouble.

The Amazon Echo is a much smaller, slimmer device, one-third the price, so it’s forgiven for sounding thin compared with the HomePod. The Sonos One came awfully close to the HomePod’s rich sound; you’d really have to hear the A/B test to declare a difference. The real shock was the Google Home Max, a massive, 12-pound machine that’s supposed to be all about the sound; it sounded like cardboard compared with the HomePod and Sonos.

So for audio quality, the HomePod truly is the best sounding device. It is surprising and damning that the Google Home Max did not sound good at all for such an expensive device. 

Apple Music is set to surpass Spotify in paid US subscribers

Andrew Liptak:

Earlier this year, Spotify announced that it had 70 million paying subscribers, reaffirming its place as the number one streaming service in the world, with Apple Music a distant second with 30 million as of September last year. In a new report in The Wall Street Journal, it appears that Apple is gaining subscribers at a higher rate in the United States, and will surpass Spotify for the number one spot this summer.

Globally, Spotify remains ahead, but Apple is growing at a higher rate in the US — five percent a month verses Spotify’s two percent per month. The US is the largest market for music streaming with 30 million paying subscribers, and Apple’s growth there means that it’s becoming a serious challenger to Spotify. Globally, Apple tells the WSJ that it now has 36 million subscribers.

The simple fact is that Apple is a multi-industry company which can covers any potential costs and losses on its streaming side with Apple Music through its over revenues and profits where as Spotify is struggling to cover it’s costs and branch the company out. This is why Apple Music will win out long term and the smart money is to switch to Apple Music as consumer.