Apple HomePod Launches With Big Sound-and Even Bigger Questions

HomePod deliveries, in-store pick-ups and sales begin in the UK

That would seem like an obvious thing for Apple to add for HomePod.

Apple has officially launched in-store pick-ups, sales and synchronised deliveries of HomePod in the United Kingdom. Vocals were pure, bass deep. Instead, you have to either open Siri on the phone - or go to Apple Maps manually - and search for it again.

You will need an Apple device to set up a HomePod - Apple for compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models through iOS 11.2.5 that was released last month. Further, there is Siri integration to let you interact with the HomePod directly using your own voice.

That's how I was able to play Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, SiriusXM and other services through the speaker, without any assistance from Siri.

The $350 speaker, however, has quirks, like any Apple product.

Not all offices feature conference room telephones (which can cost $1,000 or more), and even those that do often find attendees holding impromptu conference calls by placing an iPhone on top of the table and enabling the iPhone's speakerphone mode.

To put it to test, I sampled an eclectic mix of music: a lineup of artists that included Sinatra, Springsteen, Santana and Sia.

Apple Music has millions of artists and even more tracks, but if it's the spoken word you're interested in, HomePod has you covered there, too. I filed a dispute and trust it will be resolved, or I will re-record and replace this video with different music.

HomePod will be powered by Siri. The playlist also serves as a message, with the title of each song spelling out a welcome to Sonos' new competitor. It is designed it so that you can circle it and still enjoy 360 degrees of sound no matter where you are in the room.

"By balanced, I mean evenly distributed quality sound".

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For sure, HomePod's $349 price will be a disqualifier for some of you.

With this being central to the speaker systems, each assistant is more than adequate, but each carries its own advantages and disadvantages. HomePod is unique in that it doesn't have a singular place where it sounds the best.

It's covered in a soft grill material that comes in Space Gray or White. The idea is to turn them into a neat stereo pair. Like the HomePod, the Google Home Max also allows hands-free voice calls. The ads do not usually speak well for the company writing them.

The first reviews of new Apple products always come from people who were selected by the company to receive special briefings and early review hardware. This is a nifty feature which arguably gives the device an edge over the other two speakers here. Nor can Siri identify your voice as opposed to another family member's voice, something the other assistants can do. Building on the artificial intelligence capabilities that Google has promoted so strongly recently, it is disappointing that the Google Assistant has a smaller number of actions available compared to the Amazon system.

My out of the box set-up experience was seamless. It also senses when it is being moved to another location in the house.

My other quibble has to do with a hard challenge for Apple.

The speaker system in the HomePod is impressive, but you can get better for $350.

Even with the volume up high, Siri will hear your voice over the music.

More: A smart home sounds like a great idea.

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