Siri-us business: Everything you need to know about Apple's new HomePod

Siri-us business: Everything you need to know about Apple's new HomePod

Siri-us business: Everything you need to know about Apple's new HomePod

Apple made a great sounding speaker in HomePod, but some of the smart features still have rough edges. It can be said with some confidence that the gulf in music playback is bigger than the gap between AI capabilities, meaning that Apple gives with one hand arguably more than it takes away with the other.

Apple's decision to restrict HomePod customersto iOS and Apple Music is a strategic effort to keep peopleembedded in its ecosystem.

However, one feature that the Google Home does deliver that is absent in both the Amazon and Apple devices is the ability to utilize the speaker as an intercom. Before turning the stage over to Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller, Cook said that the company had chose to "reinvent home music", a lofty goal indeed. First, HomePod puts more focus on audio performance than technology-led home assistance which he state should be the "core value" of a smart speaker.

The speaker system in the HomePod is impressive, but you can get better for $350. There's no remote control, and no audio input port - just an integrated, fabric-covered power cable. An Apple spokesperson promised us that the functions will be "coming this year in a free software update". Though the feature isn't yet available, Apple has apparently backed off of calling two-HomePod synchronization "stereo", and plans to separately release two-speaker and multi-room modes at unspecified future dates. Case in point: this isn't even the first time it's been repurposed against Apple for a music product - Rdio wrote "Welcome, Apple". It's more than triple the price of the popular Amazon Echo ($99). What about users who switch from Apple to Android?

How does it compare with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Sonos One?

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When combined with household smart devices - like smart power switches, lights, air-conditioning and heating - users can also program Siri to automatically use a range of devices upon a single command.

- Do I need an existing Apple device for it to work?

Alexa works across Amazon devices and a rapidly growing number of non-Amazon devices. Now, when you ask about hiding a body, Siri acts like someone whose recent lobotomy has robbed her of personality and memory. It is capable of making calls, controlling smart home accessories, providing travel information, translating words into multiple languages, looking up recipes, offering nutrition guidance, answering trivia questions, looking up stocks, and telling jokes.

Apple's HomePod officially goes on sale today, with online sales of the devices expected to arrive next week. Whether it's how Siri interacts with your other devices, how the assistant helps you hunt down new and interesting content, or just how straightforward HomePod is to control, there are a few important areas that Apple could easily address to improve the user-experience dramatically.

Despite the impressive music set-up, the HomePod does have some limitations. And it's an acknowledgement that, like it or not, there are going to be multiple parties in this space.

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