Apple recently unwrapped its Amazon Echo and Google Home competitor called the HomePod during WWDC 2017.
According to the company, the Siri-powered smart speaker is designed to "reinvent home music," much in the way that the iPod did for portable music.
The thing is, its goal seems to be unclear, whether it's going to go head-to-head with the current brood of smart assistants or target brands the likes of Sonos in the audio space — or perhaps both.
Siri Seems Like An Add-on For The HomePod
On the WWDC 2017 stage, Apple highlighted the HomePod's music capabilities, including but not limited to its woofer and an array of seven tweeters.
Possibly the best part is its spatial awareness, allowing it to scan the room and deliver the best audio quality based on the acoustics in its environment.
Of course, just because the Cupertino brand focused on the HomePod's speaker qualities instead of its "smart" characteristics doesn't mean Siri didn't get some time in the spotlight.
In fact, the AI assistant can learn a user's preference when they tell it, "Hey Siri, I like this song." It can even process advanced queries when the user says something along the lines of "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?" and get a response depending on the song that's playing.
Needless to say, it can also provide answers to basic questions regarding the weather, traffic, and others.
More than that, the company touched on how the HomePod will be a hub for HomeKit devices.
However, the way Apple presented the device — emphasizing the music experience it can deliver — it sort of feels like Siri is more or less an add-on for a listening device, much so for the HomeKit part. Put differently, it's almost like a Sonos speaker with the smarts of Siri, which is arguably not as intelligent as the others.
Another One Of Apple's Clever Marketing Ploy?
It's possible that Apple knows it can't stay the pace with Alexa or Google Assistant just yet, though it seems to be trying based on its recent acquisitions.
However, in Siri's current state, it just can't hold a candle to its competitors. That might be why the company made music as the HomePod's key selling point instead, as it can't come out on top of the smart assistant race.
"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes," Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, said.
That's despite the limited access to Apple Music too. For the record, the others support Spotify, Pandora, and other popular music streams.
Long Story Short
So is the HomePod a glorified smart speaker? Short answer is kind of. Until Apple improves Siri to the point it can be in the same playing field as Alexa and Google Assistant, the HomePod is just a very nice but expensive $350 speaker.
In other words, it sort of takes a little bit of everything here and there — a bit of smarts, a bit of audio quality, and a bit of home assistant functionality — ending up as a pretty okay smart home device that can simply blast music.