I’m Still on the Fence About Buying a HomePod

BY Evan Selleck

Published 25 Jan 2018

Despite the technological prowess of the Apple HomePod, there might be a few reasons to still be on the fence.

After a bit of a delay, Apple officially announced that it would offer up the HomePod –its first smart speaker– for pre-orders beginning Friday, January 26.A little ways after that, on Friday, February 9, the device would go up for sale. Priced at $349, the HomePod isn’t the cheapest smart speaker out there, but it’s also not the most expensive (even Google has a pricier option with its Google Home Max).

The price shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone, honestly. Even for a smart speaker. This is Apple we’re talking about, first and foremost, but beyond that this is a company that aims to make the price point actually worthwhile. So yes, Apple included Siri support in there, and it can tell you about your day and so on and so forth. It has the basics covered.

But there is a reason why Apple spent so much time on the audio performance of the HomePod, and all of the technology packed into it.

Even if you go look at the HomePod landing page, there’s a quick blurb about all the things HomePod can do, but then immediately after that it’s a huge breakdown of the audio precision of the device. Basically, this is a speaker that’s meant to sound great in any room you put it in first, and a smart speaker that can help you get things done second.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I have no doubt that the HomePod is going to be a successful product for Apple, and I wish the company would go into detail about its pre-order and sales numbers, even though it probably won’t. It will ultimately come down to how good the speaker sounds, so a lot is hanging on those marketable elements.

I want the HomePod because I’m guessing it’s going to sound great. I am currently using a Google Home (regular edition) for listening to music while working, and while it’s fine there is definitely room to improve. I thought about getting a Google Home Max, but I honestly don’t want to fork over that kind of money for just any smart speaker. Going with the HomePod keeps me in the Apple ecosystem, sure, but it’s also $50 cheaper.

(Yes, Sonos is an option, and one that I keep going back to. That recently announced Sonos One two-pack offer for the same price as the HomePod is pretty enticing.)

Let’s go back to that ecosystem part, though. While I want to stay with Apple products in general, that doesn’t mean I want to use Apple Music — which is basically the only way to get the “full experience” with listening to music on the HomePod. I can use AirPlay to stream Spotify to it, but I can’t use Siri voice controls to launch playlists or artists. And I actually do that quite a bit with the Google Home and Spotify.

I’m a Spotify user. I’ve tried Apple Music multiple times, and sometimes even for multiple months at a time, but I’ve just been using Spotify for too long at this point. It knows me so well that I don’t want to give up the service or its recommendations. And I don’t feel like paying for both Apple Music and Spotify, waiting for Apple Music to get to know me.

That being said, I’m also remarkably finicky when it comes to this sort of thing, so I may just end up one day deciding to switch to Apple Music anyway and just tough it out. And honestly this is the only reason why I’m on the fence with the HomePod at this point.

I genuinely wish that Apple will start supporting third-party apps for Siri voice control — even if it’s just with the HomePod, and even if it means iOS keeps getting ignored in this regard. I’m only kind of kidding here, because I do wish I could use Siri with Spotify on my iPhone, too. Or plenty of other third-party apps, for that matter.

I want the HomePod, but I don’t think I want the HomePod enough to start using Apple Music as my daily driver for listening to music. Where do you stand with the HomePod right now? Are you already planning on pre-ordering Apple’s first smart speaker? Or are you going to wait for the reviews before you make a decision? Have you already decided to skip it? If so, why?