Apple HomePod: 3 business uses for the smart speaker

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Brian Chen from the New York Times spent his time with all three main smart speakers: HomePod, Alexa, and Home respectively, and his experience paints quite a picture.

Siri's limitations continue: It can't make calls, tell you what's on your calendar for the day, set more than one timer at once or order an Uber (or Domino's Pizza) like you can on competing smart speakers.

A slew of reviews for Apple's new smart speaker HomePod dropped on Tuesday, and they all come to the same conclusion: It's good - if you can afford it and only use Apple products such as the iPhone and services such as Apple Music.

Amazon Echo essentially houses Alexa, the personal assistant developed by the huge company.

With this being central to the speaker systems, each assistant is more than adequate, but each carries its own advantages and disadvantages. That would seem like an obvious thing for Apple to add for HomePod. But it must be said that the Amazon device delivers the best AI capabilities.

HomePod is locked into Apple's own ecosystem, meaning it is only compatible with Apple Music. The HomePod also works only with iOS devices. Apple leaves the competition behind when it comes to audio quality.

Again, Apple's insistence on forcing its users into its walled garden limits the device's appeal (you better make sure you're ready to cough up for an Apple Music subscription to get the most out of the HomePod, for example). Anyone considering investing in a HomePod must be both an Apple device user already, and be willing to use only Apple Music as their streaming service on the device. Those homes with more than one Google speaker can utilize them to broadcast a message, which will play across any Google Home device located within your dwelling. Google's speaker is the louder of the two, though mainly because of its bookshelf-speaker size and 12-pound heft, dwarfing the HomePod.

HomePod at work
HomePod at work

Voice recognition is obviously critical in any Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home comparison, and it will be disappointing for potential Apple consumers that Siri is somewhat behind the other two intelligent operating systems here as well.

Apple significantly trails Amazon's Echo and Google's Home lines of smart speakers entering the market, but Apple put a high emphasis on speaker sound quality.

There is no doubt that Google has a big advantage over the other two competitors thanks to its emphasis on searching, and this is indeed reflected in the performance of its system. Case in point: this isn't even the first time it's been repurposed against Apple for a music product - Rdio wrote "Welcome, Apple".

9to5Mac stopped at Apple's new Michigan Avenue store in Chicago and Apple The Summit in Birmingham, AL today to take a look and listen to how well HomePod performs in acoustic conditions that will differ significantly from most people's homes.

There are no bones about it; HomePod is a superb wireless audio speaker.

Siri data is retained - to help tailor music recommendations and other actions - but only on your device, not on Apple's central servers.

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