Thoughts on the HomePod

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I’ve spent a good part of this week reading about the HomePod and considering buying it when it comes out in December but the more I think about this purchase, the more skeptical I become about the value it might add to my daily life. Don’t get me wrong — from the looks of it, Apple has clearly designed a great speaker and it’s nice to know that something good is finally coming out of that Beats acquisition but buying the HomePod, to me, is more than just about great sounding music. It’s about giving up my existing Amazon Echo setup because HomePod, by design, sucks you into the Apple ecosystem which I personally have a love-hate relationship with. Let me explain.

Stagnant Siri

I’ve stopped finding Siri useful sometime around 2014-15. The novelty simply wore off and the fact that Apple didn’t do much to keep it moving with their competitors’ products didn’t help. Last week, when Apple proudly announced that Siri could say the word ‘sunny’ using three separate intonations, I couldn’t help but chuckle. I’d have been a happier man if they announced that Siri would become more capable, or if they opened up deeper integration of third party applications, but no. That isn’t happening for now.

Alexa vs. Siri

Alexa is vastly superior in that there are 1000s of third party skills I can use to get things done. Like waking up in the morning and asking Alexa how much sleep I got and actually getting an accurate answer because Amazon allows their device to work with Fitbit. On the other hand, the HomePod will likely only interact with Apple Watch, a product I refuse to buy at this point because of its price point and the relative value it would add to my life.

I could go on and on about many other examples — HomePods are going to force me to lock into Apple Music when I’m perfectly content with Spotify and Amazon Music (which is part of my Prime subscription). It will also likely speak only to Apple Maps (not that Alexa works with Google Maps, but Google Home does) and other subpar Apple alternatives while ignoring clearly superior products on the market. This is why HomePods don’t appeal to me and likely won’t, until Apple opens up Siri to the extent in which Amazon and Google have done with their respective AI platforms.

For now, I’m perfectly content with my Echo Dot paired to my four year old JBL Flip. Sure, it isn’t an amazing speaker but it gets the job done for a lot less $$ than what Apple would like.

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