Apple HomePod sounds nice however not so good: critics

NATION-NOW     5 things you need to know Friday     
       5 things you need to know Friday

We'll have a full review of the HomePod shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for its arrival. Customers can place an order for the HomePod directly from Apple's online store, or purchase it from any nearby Apple Store.

The 7-inch tall speaker ($349) can play music and podcasts, read you the news and control other connected devices in the home via built-in Siri voice assistant.

It's not just distance. You can also wake it up from across the room by saying "Hey, Siri". Unfortunately, all that is now locked up on the HomePod.

How does it compare with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Sonos One? Unfortunately, there's no such record available for Siri's responses. If you've already started listening to a favorite podcast on your iPhone, as long as you've got "Listening History" sharing turned on, HomePod will automatically resume wherever you last left off. "It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalog and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, handsome design that is so much fun to use".

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Bluetooth streaming: You can't just stream music from any Bluetooth source to the HomePod, even though it has Bluetooth 5.0 hardware inside. If you ask for something generic - like "Hey Siri, play a cat podcast" - you'll get whatever the closest existing podcast title there is to that request, but not some curated examples based on that theme.

Select Apple Authorised Resellers, including Best Buy in the US; Argos, Dixons Carphone (Currys PC World), John Lewis, Shop Direct (Very and Littlewoods), EE and Apple Premium Resellers in the United Kingdom; and The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Telstra in Australia, have also started selling the HomePod locally. It can't yet control iOS devices or Apple TVs, and it can't distinguish between multiple users' voices. To use a competing service such as Spotify with the HomePod, you have to control it through your phone.

It's useful if you're out of Siri's hearing range, but it's hardly as straightforward as other smart speakers make it.

Pull up from the bottom of your home screen to get to your control center (or down from the top-right corner if you're on the iPhone X). That would seem like an obvious thing for Apple to add for HomePod.

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