HomePod test: Great sound, but only inside Apple's walled garden – Tech News

The HomePod's neat integration into the Apple universe could make it an attractive choice over the Amazon Echo, Google Home or sound systems from Sonos. But this smart speaker only exists within the 'walled garden' of the Apple universe. — dpa
Apple is pretty late to the game with its HomePod smart speaker. The Amazon Echo has been on the market for three years, while Google has been around for over a year.

But it was not the first time demonstrated.

Really for any Apple smartphone, the HomePod's neat integration into the Amazon Echo, Google Home or sound systems from Sonos.

Setting up the HomePod is easy. You take out any Apple gadget running on at least iOS version 11.2.5, such as an iPhone or iPod touch, and your WiFi and iCloud settings are transmitted in seconds. [19659001] The initial soundcheck already shows the HomePod to the different league to members of the Amazon Echo family. That's partly because Apple's engineers have taken a different approach. A powerful A8 chip is plugged into the HomePod just like the one in the iPhone 6s and analyses voice commands for Siri, helping to adjust the sound of the tweeters both to the song and room.

This secures an extra advantage in sound quality , regardless of whether pop music, hop or rock is being played. The speaker even plays Jazz classics like Dave Brubeck's Take Five with an impressive quality, transparent mid-range and clear trebles. Meanwhile, the basses of the subwoofer installed underneath the touch display do not sound dull and rattly like on many other speakers when playing pop songs, but have a deeper, fuller sound.

Still, the HomePod only really works inside the so -called “walled garden” of the Apple universe. In addition to a current iOS device, users also need music services with the Apple logo to operate the HomePod.

While all sorts of content can be streamed via AirPlay from the iPhone to the HomePod, a subscription with Apple is required for users who wants to get by without an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or iPod touch and directly play music on the HomePod by voice command.

That means either US $ 25 (RM98) a month to put your whole iTunes library on the cloud streams straight to their HomePod via iTunes Match, or else US $ 10 (RM39) a month for a subscription to Apple Music with nearly 40 million songs.

Devices from Amazon, Google or Sonos are much more flexible in this respect and let

But given the competition, Apple could still put some doors in the walls of its walled garden. A few more features are on the way, however, like the ability to connect two HomePods to a stereo pair or sync playing music in several rooms. That should be delivered per update with AirPlay 2.

And yet if you are looking for a variety of audio apps, like the so-called “skills” feature in Amazon's Echo speakers, you're looking at the wrong smart speaker .

For the time being, the 2.5kg speaker is only available in stores in the United States, Britain and Australia and is scheduled for release in more markets. – dpa

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