Tim Cook finally revealed Apple’s answer to Amazon’s Echo, which has been credited with creating the category for smart home speakers.
1. Apple’s Lack of confidence in Siri
I thought Federici was trolling us when he said that the name of the new macOS update was “High Sierra”, I didn’t expect that things would get worse. Siri Speaker would have been a more appropriate name, but by naming it HomePod, it seems like Apple was apprehensive about associating the speaker with the virtual assistant, which hasn’t been receiving favorable reviews.
Even in this interview with Bloomberg, Tim Cook categorically said that they’re looking the reinvent home music as well, just the way they reinvent in the portable player area. When Emily Chang asked him if one could make phone calls using HomePod, or book a cab or order groceries, he reiterated the focus was to reinvent home music. The lack of any announcement about the developer kit for the speaker puts further doubts on support for third-party apps in HomePod.
But that kind of contradicts what Phil Schiller had to say, as during the initial introduction about HomePod he claimed that they’re looking to make a breakthrough in home speaker because currently, companies like Sonos make speakers that make wireless music sounds good in our homes but don’t have any intelligence like Siri or Alexa and smart speakers like Amazon Echo allow you to talk to, but they don’t sound that great when you listen to music, but none of the companies had nailed it yet.
If Apple intends to nail it, HomePod should not only offer brilliant sound, it should also be a great virtual assistant. It does not seem like Apple was too confident of the latter.
I was quite excited when Tim Cook said “one last thing”, as we all knew Apple was going to announce the Siri speaker. But the design of the HomePod left me underwhelmed. It looks pretty basic with the mesh fabric design and looks too big for a smart home speaker.
The design has got people joking that it looks like a roll of toilet paper.
— Raz (@raztweets) June 5, 2017
An Amazon Echo customer posted a picture of his speaker wrapped in toilet paper and claimed he got the new Apple HomePod.
— Ody Granados (@Odymon) June 5, 2017
3. No Screen
While the Siri waveform that appears on the top to indicate when Siri is engaged is quite cool, one of the features in our wishlist was a screen. I think a screen would have improved the experience or at least reduced the frustration if Siri didn’t respond
4. Multi-User Support
It doesn’t look like HomePod would support multiple users yet as Apple didn’t talk about it. I think for a device that is likely to be used by multiple people in a family like the television, the multi-user support is an essential feature.
The real utility of smart speakers like Amazon Echo is when you can place them in all your rooms. To be able to do that, they need to be cheap. Virtual assistant speakers like Amazon Echo have become popular because they are quite cheap. But at $350, HomePod is anything but cheap. It would be a very expensive proposition to place HomePods across your home. Apple tried to justify it by saying that is the best of both worlds, but I am not convinced about the Siri part, and I already have a Sonos, so I really can’t see the justification of buying the HomePod.
If I had to buy the HomePod just for the music experience, then it would be up against speakers like the Bose. We will have to wait and see if the HomePod is better than them to justify their steep price.
It was also strange that Apple did not have a working demo of the product. All people could do is take photos and videos of the device with the Siri waveform in action, which seemed quite silly. It just seems so unlike Apple to unveil a product that clearly doesn’t seem to be ready even though the company claimed they have been working on the product for the last 4 years. It is a worrying sign for an Apple loyalist like me.
Personally, I also haven’t figured out the utility of smart speakers, and have been quite surprised by the success of the Amazon Echo. But, I was eagerly waiting for Apple to launch HomePod as I expected they would launch a revolutionary device, which will finally convince me to buy one. After getting a sneak peak at the HomePod, I am still not convinced. How about you? Will you be buying one when it is available in December?Like this post? Share it!