HomePod review roundup: 'Room filling,' 'best-in-class' sound, but Siri is 'embarrassingly inadequate'

A speaker that's not so smart.

Credit: Roman Loyola

With less than 72 hours until its release, the first HomePod reviews are in from a hand-picked group of media outlets, and they’re very positive—as long as you’re buying Apple’s $349 smart speaker for sound quality. The Homepod’s “smarts,” though, leave much to be desired.

That’s not a total surprise, since Siri is woefully inadequate on other devices and Apple hadn’t given us any indication that it has enhanced Siri for HomePod. But in action it’s even worse than we expected. Brian X. Chen of The New York Times laments Siri’s capabilities on the new speaker and concludes that “Siri doesn’t even work as well on HomePod as it does on the iPhone.”

For example, it can’t hail an Uber (something Tim Cook touted as a feature during Apple’s quarterly results conference call last week), it can’t read recipes, and it can’t create and access calendar entries. Chen even says Siri struggled to find music he liked, an area it’s supposed to excel: “But after a week—during which I asked HomePod to play my favorite tunes from artists like Beck, The Talking Heads and David Bowie—the smart speaker still did not learn. Instead, like a stubborn D.J., Siri kept playing music by artists outside my music palette: Taylor Swift and Leroy Frances, to name just two.”

The Verge’s Nilay Patel had a much better music experience, particularly praising the speaker’s ability to hear its wake word, but also laments Siri’s inability to distinguish between voices when making personal requests to read messages:

“This is also baffling: iPhones don’t answer to just anyone saying “Hey Siri” once you’ve trained them to your voice, and the HomePod runs a variant of iOS on an A8 chip, which allows for “Hey Siri” on the iPhone 6 when it’s plugged into the wall. I asked Apple about this, and there wasn’t a clear answer apart from noting that the personal requests feature that enables texting can be turned off. I agree: until Apple adds personalized voice recognition to this thing, you should definitely turn personal requests off.”

Over at TechCrunch, Matthew Panzarino says HomePod offers “best-in-class voice recognition, vastly outstripping the ability of other smart speakers to hear you trying to trigger a command at a distance or while music is playing,” and said that “Siri detection works like pure elven magic on the HomePod.” However, he notes that “Apple has a lot of ground to make up with Siri, which is clearly why it is focusing on speaker quality and the streamlined value proposition of it being a conduit for Apple Music.”

Superior sound

When it comes to sound quality, however, every reviewer agreed that HomePod is at the top of its game. Music aficionado Jim Dalrymple at The Loop wrote that “there is just no comparison when you compare [competing] devices to HomePod’s sound quality—they suck. … The sound when playing music [on HomePod] is incredible, and certainly many times better than any smart speaker on the market today.”

apple homepod scan room Apple

HomePod has great sound but you really need to be an Apple Music subsciber to enjoy it to the fullest.

Joanna Stern at The Wall Street Journal also came away impressed by HomePod’s audio abilities and amplification: “When I put the HomePod on stage at a 450-seat theater, I could hear Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ beautifully from the last row.” However, she found the low-end “far too front-and-center in the mix,” and wondered why Apple didn’t include an equalizer for adjusting HomePod’s mix. Like the other reviewers, however, she concluded that HomePod is the best smart speaker for Apple Music’s 36 million subscribers, but Spotify and Google Play Music subscribers might want to wait to buy one.

Panzarino sums it up most succinctly: “If you don’t like Apple Music, don’t buy a HomePod.”

Macworld’s HomePod guide explains everything you need to know about the smart speaker, which costs $349 on Apple’s website.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags SiriHomePod

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Simon

Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?