5 months ago


REVIEW You can ask Siri

REVIEW You can ask Siri to send a text message or call someone. And if you need to use another service, say WhatsApp, you simply say “Send John a message on WhatsApp” or even “Send Matt a WhatsApp saying ‘Do you want to meet for dinner at 7.30?’”. For reminders, Siri will add your request to your Reminders app on your phone. Unlike Alexa, it won’t give an audible reminder from the HomePod at the time you set: you’ll just get a notification on your iPhone. Apple needs to work on Siri’s speech, though. Its pronunciation and intonation aren’t nearly as good as the Google Assistant or Alexa: it sounds more robotic and less lifelike than its rivals. A while back, Apple opened up Siri to app developers so they could allow users to control aspects with the assistant. The launch of the HomePod could prompt some to add Siri to their apps which could bring ‘native’ control for music services such as Spotify. It remains to be seen whether that will happen or not, though. Performance You’re probably most interested in sound quality, as this is a speaker after all. The good news is that it’s the best sounding smart speaker we’ve heard. By a clear margin. It’s room-filling loud, with no distortion at all even at high volume. Bass is excellent, and much louder and deeper than you’d ever expect from something this small. As it’s circular, the main woofer sits horizontally inside and fires upwards. At the bottom, an array of seven tweeters ensure mids and highs are projected in 54 TECH ADVISOR • MAY 2018

REVIEW all directions. And their location means sound will also be reflected off the surface you’ve put the HomePod on. Cleverly, an on-board Apple A8 chip uses the array of six microphones to listen to the environment and adjust the sound automatically to optimise it for the HomePod’s location. This happens automatically and invisibly, so it isn’t possible to hear a ‘with’ and ‘without’ processing to check for audible differences. Nevertheless, the HomePod does indeed sound great pretty much wherever you put it: on a shelf, a side table or on the kitchen worktop. Bass is also monitored and controlled by the A8 chip to ensure distortion is kept in check. While mids and highs sound the same on various surfaces and in different locations, bass does seem to be affected. When placed on a thick wooden kitchen worktop with ceramic tiles, the HomePod’s bass sounded much more MAY 2018 • TECH ADVISOR 55

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