Apple HomePod: 15 things you need to know before buying

The Apple HomePod is the latest hardware product from the folks who brought us the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. The HomePod is Apple’s attempt to go head to toe with Amazon and Google’s smart speakers. While there’s plenty of reasons to consider the HomePod, it isn’t without its faults either. 

There have been plenty of Apple HomePod reviews out there that go through the pros, cons, and everything in between. At DGiT we wanted to point out the practical highlights and disadvantages of the HomePod without all the extra fluff. So instead of a traditional Apple HomePod review, let’s take a look at 15 things you should know before you consider buying the Apple HomePod!

1. It can reach face-melting volumes

If you want to have a speaker that gets really, really loud, the HomePod may be for you. You can use its Siri voice command support to tell the HomePod how loud it can go when playing your favorite tunes, from level 1 to 100. In our tests, level 1 offers sound levels as low as 52 dB, while level 100 can go up to 104 dB or higher. Of course, the Google Home Max likely provides a similar experience for those that aren’t necessarily into Apple’s ecosystem of products.

2. It doesn’t work when you cuss

If you are frustrated with HomePod, don’t expect it to help you when you use some “colorful metaphors”.  When we asked HomePod, with its Siri support, “What’s the f***ing time,” it replied simply, “Your language”. When we asked Siri to “f***ing stop” playing a song on the HomePod, it didn’t, and told us sternly, “There’s no need for that.”

3. It can translate English into five languages

Want to learn how to speak French? HomePod and Siri can help. It can translate your spoken English words into French, along with German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, and Spanish.

4. You can create custom phrases to control your smart home

If you own smart home devices such as connected lights or thermostats, you can make your own phrases on your iPhone that the HomePod can recognize and use on those devices. For example, if you wanted to shut off all of your lights in your living room, simply set up the HomePod to react to the phrase, “Shut it down” and it will command the connected lights to turn off.

5. It can handle vague music requests

The HomePod will likely be used most in your home to play music, and thanks to its Siri support, it should be able to handle most of your music requests. We asked HomePod, “Play some music similar to Unknown Mortal Orchestra,” and it did just that. It also played the number one song from 1989 when we asked (In case you were wondering, it was “Look Away” from Chicago).

6. It can recognize other songs being played

If you are playing a song on another speaker, phone or other device, but you don’t know what it is, you can have the HomePod heard it and ask it to “Shazam that song.” Siri on the HomePod should respond with the correct title and artist.

7. It will remember songs you like and songs you don’t like

Via Siri, the HomePod will play songs that you like, but if it happens to play a tune that you don’t care for, you can tell it, “I don’t like this song”. The HomePod will remember that and not play it again.

8. It can set timers, alarms and reminders.

If you need some extra help to get through the day’s, or if you just need to wake up in the morning on time, the HomePod can assist you.  You can use your voice to have it play your favorite songs for your alarms when you wake up. You can also ask it to remind you of any important tasks you need to do, like water the flowers in the morning. It can also set up timers for when you might be cooking something.

9. It can read your texts aloud and send out replies

Sometimes you just don’t want to get out your phone to type out a reply to a text message. With the HomePod, you will never need to do that again. Not only will the speaker read out any texts that you get on your iPhone, but you can speak out any replies you want to send to those texts, and the HomePod will translate those spoken words back into text to your recipients.

10. It can’t make phone calls

This is one of the major issues with the HomePod. While you can use it as a speakerphone, you can’t tell the HomePod to actually start a phone call. If you try, the HomePod will inform you of this issue and it will add, “Sorry about that.” You can connect the iPhone to the same Wi-Fi network the HomePod is on to begin a call, and select the speaker as the output. Still, that’s a little less intuitive than what we’re finding with other smart speakers on the market.

11. It has six voices to choose from

You can stick with the traditional Siri female American voice, but for some variety, Apple also allows the HomePod to speak in an American male voice, along with Australian and UK male and female voices.

12. You gotta use AirPlay to play music on Spotify

Yes, the HomePod can play your Spotify playlist, but there’s a catch. Your iPhone and HomePod have to be connected to AirPlay for the speaker to connect to your Spotify account. Be aware it takes a few seconds for this connection to happen, and if you say something like “Pause” to pause the playback on a song via Spotify, the HomePod may also take a few seconds to respond.

13. It can tell you about people, places and events and keep context

If you want to learn more about a person, the Siri voice command features in the HomePad can help. More importantly, it knows what you are talking about when you give it follow up questions about the same subject. For example, we asked HomePod, “Tell me about Bob Dylan?” and it gave us the answer. Then we asked, “Play music from his first album,” and HomePod did just that, as it didn’t need to be reminded specifically about Bob Dylan to know what we wanted.

14. It can “flip a coin” and “roll a die”

Want to flip a coin to decide something? With the HomePod, you can ask it to flip a coin and it will tell you either “Heads” or “Tails”. Maybe you are playing a board game or table-top RPG? You can ask HomePod to roll a die for you. In fact, that die can have as many as 100 sides if you want.

15. It’s dead simple to set up, but you need an iPhone or iPad

If you own one of Apple’s iOS-based phones or tablets, all you have to do is get it close to the HomePad, and it will start up the setup processo. Unfortunately, if you have an Android phone or tablet, you are out of luck as the speaker won’t work on those devices.

So that’s it for our quick Apple HomePod review. As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the HomePod, but a few things that stand out as less ideal too — such as a lack of better Spotify support and the poor decision to leave out Android users from the fun. What do you think of Apple’s smart speaker? Let us know your thoughts down below.

Next – Here are the best smart speakers you can buy

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