The HomePod’s audio quality is light years ahead of any smart speaker you can buy in India today
Native music streaming support from Apple Music only
NEW DELHI :
The Apple HomePod presents a conundrum. Most smart speakers are connected devices first and speaker second, but the HomePod is the exact opposite. Apple’s focus is on audio quality rather than the connected environment.
The HomePod’s audio quality is light years ahead of any smart speaker you can buy in India today. So, no Amazon Echo or Google Home can come close to the HomePod in terms of sound quality. Audio is rich, the emphasis on bass is not overdone, and you get the same audio quality that portable speakers in this price range provide, if not better. The closest alternative to this would be the Bose Home Speaker 500, which has Alexa built in. However, the HomePod’s treatment of different audio frequencies, and especially its soundstage, is much more advanced.
The HomePod also has a feature that automatically adjusts the equalizer to the room. So, if you place it close to a corner, microphones inside the HomePod will recognize the audio bouncing off the walls close to it and adjust the internal equalizer accordingly. It’s a feature some other smart speakers also have, but with Apple’s hold on audio quality, it’s perhaps much more important here.
The HomePod can also get extremely loud. Siri will actually warn you if you try to turn up the volume to 100%.
That said, Apple’s big downfall could be support for smart home devices. Of the five smart lights we had in our home, from four different companies, only one was supported on the HomePod. All our other smart devices, which includes a television, an air conditioner, water purifier, and two air purifiers, were not supported by the HomePod.
Apple has worked on Indianizing the device, though. You can ask for news or covid-19 updates, and you will get them from Indian news sources. If there’s one thing the company has proved over the years, it’s that it can build a healthy ecosystem around its devices better and faster than anyone else. If Apple can sell a million HomePods worldwide, there’s a good chance that other companies will flock to provide support for it.
Another downside is that the HomePod only supports Apple Music natively. That means you will have to use AirPlay, Apple’s own wireless streaming tech, to play music via Spotify and other apps. It’s unclear whether Apple plans to allow other music streaming services to stream natively through the HomePod at this point, but it definitely puts users who don’t pay for Apple Music at a disadvantage.
The HomePod’s design is quite sleek too. It can fit most media centres and the screen on top has very few buttons, which means almost every command will be through voice. Siri reacts much better on the HomePod than it does on the iPhone and the speaker can hear voice commands even when it’s playing music quite loudly.
In sum, it is good for those already in Apple’s ecosystem and want a smart speaker where audio quality comes first. Smart speakers though have a more functional appeal in India, as connected devices, which might put Apple at a disadvantage at least for the time being.
■ Excellent audio quality
■ Modulates equalizer automatically based on placement
■ Sleek and aesthetic design
■ Meant for Apple users only
■ Native music streaming support from Apple Music only