After multiple delays and more than 6 months of teasing, Apple’s HomePod is finally in stores. It’s not really a run of the mill Apple product. This is the first wireless smart speaker Apple has ever made. And it’s entering a world that’s already dominated by Amazon Echo and Google Home. You might be wondering, what exactly is special about HomePod? What All can it do? Should I buy it? We will answer all those questions in our HomePod FAQ below.
Read more: Top 10 HomePod Features
It’s a really good wireless speaker for listening to music. Like any Apple product, it’s the hardware that’s the most fascinating. In this 7 inches tall cylinder, Apple has managed to stuff in a 7 tweeter array, 6 microphones for Siri and a big, down-firing subwoofer.
Plus, there’s a special mic in the middle that’s just used for regulating the bass. The HomePod has a meshy, textured exterior. On the top, there’s a little touch-sensitive display. It can’t display information but you can control playback and volume by tapping on it.
Unlike other wireless speakers in the market, HomePod’s smarts come from its hardware. It runs on an A8 chip from the iPhone 6 and has 1 GB RAM. There’s no tuning required. And for a high-end speaker system, that’s rare.
HomePod has a built-in accelerometer and a whole system where it scans the room and adjusts the sound every time it’s moved. So no matter where you put your HomePod, it’s going to fill the room with amazing sound.
Yes, it does. This is something that every critic and reviewer seems to agree on. As speakers that are designed for Music playback, HomePod is the best in class. It sounds way better than any Echo or Google Home (including the Max). Only Sonos Play 1 comes close.
HomePod Costs $349. It comes in two colors – Silver and Space Grey. You can order it right now from Apple’s online store. Currently, HomePod is only available in the US, UK, and Australia.
HomePod is a wireless “smart” speaker. Once you’ve set it up using your iPhone or iPad, you can control HomePod using your voice. HomePod works with Apple Music, iTunes purchases (including Family Sharing ones), iCloud Music Library and iTunes Match. So as long as you’ve got your music in those places, you can just say “Hey Siri play (your music here)” and HomePod will just start playing.
Yes and no. Siri only supports Apple Music so you can’t use Siri to play music from Spotify or any other streaming service. But HomePod supports AirPlay. So you can AirPlay the Spotify music from your iOS device to HomePod. When you’re doing that, you can use Siri on HomePod for simple play and pause commands but that’s it.
This is one of the biggest limitations of the HomePod. And if you’re not an Apple Music subscriber, it will severely limit the usability of the HomePod. When you buy the HomePod, you can sign up for a 3 months Apple Music trail.
No. Currently, Siri on the HomePod is extremely limited and it’s not open for third-party developers yet.
Here’s everything that Siri on the HomePod can do.
Control your smart home devices: Siri can control any of your smart home devices that are connected via HomeKit. Just ask Siri to turn off the lights or change the temperature for devices that you’ve already added to the Home app.
Personal Requests: HomePod has a feature called Personal Requests which lets you read and reply to your messages, take notes and add reminders.
Apple Podcasts: You can also play any podcasts from Apple Podcasts service. As it to play the latest episode from your favorite podcasts. Just like Apple Music, HomePod doesn’t support third-party podcasts clients like Overcast or Pocket Casts.
The News: Just like Siri on the iPhone, HomePod will tell you the day’s news. When you ask HomePod “Hey Siri, what’s the news today?”, you’ll hear news briefings from reputable sources.
Read more: How to Use Siri News on iPhone and iPad
You can interact with the touchpad to do things when you don’t want to use your voice. Tap and hold to directly invoke Siri. Tap on the Plus or Minus button to change the volume. Double tap to go the next song and triple tap to go to the previous track.
Right now, Siri can only do a single timer at a time. You can’t do multiple or named timers. So if you were thinking of using Siri in your kitchen, you might want to get an Amazon Echo Dot instead. Siri also can’t talk to your calendar right now (even if you’re using iCloud as your calendar).
Most of the smart home feature you’ve come to expect from Amazon Echo are not available on the HomePod.
Siri right now can’t detect multiple voices. This is another big limitation of the HomePod. Both Amazon Echo and Google Home can do this.
If you’re living with your friends or family, the Personal Requests feature becomes a huge privacy issue. Anyone can just walk up to your HomePod, ask it to read your messages and even reply to them! There’s no authentication in the entire process.
If you don’t live alone, you might want to turn this feature off completely. Open the Home app, tap on Add Home, tap on your profile, select Personal Requests and then turn the feature off.
Yes, you can output your Apple TV audio to HomePod using AirPlay. But this is a manual process. HomePod doesn’t directly integrate with the Apple TV. This means that you can’t ask HomePod to start playing a movie on Apple TV (something that Amazon Echo and Google Home can do with Fire TV and Chromecast respectively).
Once you’ve paired your HomePod with your Apple TV, you can swipe down to reveal the info panel during playback and select your HomePod from the list as an output. But the next time you play something on your HomePod, your Apple TV will forget the connection and you’ll have to switch over to it again manually.
So while it’s possible to use your HomePod with your Apple TV, it’s not a replacement for a dedicated soundbar or your surround system.
No. HomePod has no line-in audio. There’s no AUX input or really any kind of audio-in. So you can’t use it as a wired speaker for your console, cable box or directly from your TV.
No. While the HomePod comes with Bluetooth 5.0, it doesn’t support Bluetooth streaming. The only way to stream audio to HomePod is by using AirPlay.
It won’t work out of the box. You’ll need to use an AirPlay-compatible app on your device to stream to HomePod. On Android, you would need DoubleTwist Pro and on Windows, you would need an app like AirServer.
Right now, you can’t use more than one HomePod together. That feature will show with AirPlay 2. We first learned about AirPlay 2 at WWDC 2017 and when the feature is currently in beta in iOS 11.3, we don’t know when the feature will be live on the HomePod. Apple promises it’s coming “later this year”. So it could be a couple of months till the feature shows up. So even if you spend $700 on a pair of HomePods, you can’t use them together right now.
Apple prides itself on respecting your privacy. And according to Apple, HomePod won’t start listening and recording until you say the wake word “Hey Siri”. Only then Apple will send your voice to its server. And according to Apple, the data is anonymized and it’s encrypted on both ends. So even if someone is snooping on your network, they won’t be able to hear your conversation with the HomePod.
If you want to have a completely private conversation where you don’t even want to trigger Siri (accidentally or intentionally), you can just say “Hey Siri, stop listening”. Siri will confirm and HomePod will turn its microphones off. The next time, you’ll have to walk up to the HomePod and tap on the touchpad on the top to re-enable Siri.
Apple has made the setup process really easy and seamless. It’s similar to setting up AirPods. You’ll see a menu slide up when you put your iPhone next to the HomePod. You can complete the setup in a couple of minutes. When you’re done, your iPhone will transfer all your iCloud details and settings to your HomePod. All you have to do is to type in your Apple ID password.
An out of warranty repair on the HomePod without AppleCare+ will cost you a staggering $279 in the United States, $AUD399 in Australia, and £319 in the United Kingdom. AppleCare+ for HomePod costs $39 but for a speaker that’s just going to sit on a table, spending the extra cash for AppleCare+ doesn’t really make sense.
What do you think of the HomePod? Will be buying the HomePod right now? Or is it just not the right gadget for you? Share with us in the comments below.