Apple HomePod Review (2023): Old and Stale

Apple cares a lot about music. Steve Jobs liked it a lot that he invented the iPod and iTunes to allow us to carry all of it in every single place, and personally owned multi-thousand-dollar Finnish speakers in his sparsely-decorated lounge. To this present day, Apple Music is likely one of the best-sounding streaming services you possibly can subscribe to because of lossless audio help. The headphones it makes, each itself and by way of Beats, are largely improbable.

It’s a disgrace, then, that the corporate nonetheless fails to make a fantastic full-size sensible speaker. Not solely is the not too long ago revamped HomePod a near-perfect visible copy of the discontinued model from 2018, nevertheless it barely has any audio enhancements. The new HomePod has much less drivers for audio, stays incompatible with Spotify and different well-liked companies, and nonetheless can’t talk with something however Apple units when your mates are over. The full-color display on the highest is bigger, nevertheless it fails to convey extra info than an Amazon Echo’s blue stripe.

In 2018, foibles like these had been mildly acceptable so long as the voice assistant labored and the speaker may fill your room with sound. But provided that so many glorious rivals now exist in so many various shapes and sizes, it’s arduous to let the HomePod slide. The smaller HomePod Mini already accomplishes the identical Siri voice management (if you happen to desire that to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, that are objectively higher), and provides greater than sufficient sound high quality for folk who simply wish to put some music on.

Unless you spend $600 for 2 HomePods to pay attention in stereo, the sound high quality isn’t that nice, with a heavy serving to of bass and not a lot definition within the mid-range. You can get the identical “I have music playing” feeling from the smaller mannequin, or from any variety of rivals, for much less. If you need high-end sound, you received’t discover it right here.

New Marshmallow, Same Shape

Photograph: Apple

Physically, the brand new HomePod is barely extra squat than the older mannequin, a fats little marshmallow of sound that’s about 7 inches excessive. Otherwise, the principle distinction you’ll discover is the bigger display on prime, with built-in quantity up and down buttons. Say “Hey Siri,” and Apple’s voice assistant wakes up, with a splash of colourful plasma exhibiting up on the highest display to let you already know she’s listening.

One distinction that many who keep in mind the previous mannequin will welcome is a detachable energy cable, which permits consumers to snake it via the sometimes-small holes in furnishings. The final one lacked this and pissed off many individuals with customized furnishings. 

Like the earlier mannequin, the brand new one is available in two colours: White and Midnight, which is a barely darker black than final. Some early studies have indicated that the white mannequin, like the last one, stains wooden with rings when left on picket surfaces. I haven’t had that challenge, however I’d nonetheless get a black one; Apple’s white cloth tends to grow to be stained through the years with mud and put on and tear.

Made for iPhone

Photograph: Apple

Like the final mannequin, setup is a breeze. Hold a late-model iPhone (with the most recent software program) as much as the factor and the HomePod immediately acknowledges it and units it up. You inform it what room it’s in and you’re off to the races, as long as your cellphone is already logged in to Apple Music. You received’t get Spotify, YouTube Music, Tidal, or Amazon Music compatibility right here, however the HomePod does help Pandora, Deezer, TuneIn Radio, iHeartRadio, and others. You can use AirPlay to play unsupported companies on the speaker, nevertheless it’s a fairly annoying workaround and requires that friends have iPhones.

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