Here's what reviewers are saying about HomePod, Apple's new smart speaker

  • Apple HomePod reviews are out, and most folks are praising its sound quality.
  • Still, reviewers say the smart speaker is best for people who already use other Apple products and services.
  • Reviewers say Amazon and Google's smart speakers are smarter and compatible with a larger range of devices and services.
A prototype of Apple's new HomePod is displayed during the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center on June 5, 2017 in San Jose, California.
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A prototype of Apple's new HomePod is displayed during the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center on June 5, 2017 in San Jose, California.

Reviews of the HomePod — Apple's new $350 Siri-powered smart speaker — are out, and they're mixed.

Reviewers appreciate the device's audio quality but note that the device is only for people already invested in Apple's ecosystem, such as those who already own an iPhone, iPad, Mac or other Apple device. It's not for Android users or folks who prefer music services such as Spotify over Apple Music.

In other words, it sounds OK but there's still a ton you can't do with it yet.

Here's what the reviewers are saying.

BuzzFeed said the HomePod is "designed for someone with 100% Apple product buy-in, who lives in the iOS/Mac ecosystem, who subscribes to Apple Music, and who just wants basic smart speaker functions." It says "anyone else should consider other options."

The Verge called the HomePod a "remarkable new kind of audio device" that "does more to make music sound better than any other speaker of this kind has ever done before." Like others, it agreed that most people are "better served by other smart speakers that sound almost as good" unless "you live entirely inside Apple's walled garden." In other words, it sounds good but most folks should just buy something else.

TechCrunch said consumers should only buy a HomePod if "you already have Apple Music or want to have it and you're in the market for a single incredibly over-designed and radically impressive speaker that will give you really great sound with basically no tuning, fussing, measuring or tweaking." It warns not to buy the device if you don't have Apple Music — which leaves Spotify subscribers out.

The Wall Street Journal praised its sound but said it's not as smart as other smart speakers like the Amazon Echo. It also notes that, while you can pair the HomePod with an iPhone to make calls, you need to place the call from your iPhone first and then continue it on the HomePod, which seems clunky.

The Wall Street Journal also says this: "If you're an Apple Music user, the HomePod is the best matching speaker. There is a very close second though. The Sonos One now comes with Alexa, and Google Assistant is expected to arrive this year. It already plays Apple Music via the Sonos app. And Sonos is now offering two Ones for the price of a HomePod."

USAToday said that most people might consider a more affordable $199 Sonos or even Amazon's $99 Echo, instead of spending $350 for Apple's HomePod. It also noted that Apple needs to update its software before users can play music in multiple rooms with several HomePods, or in stereo with two of Apple's smart speakers. Apple hasn't said exactly when that software is rolling out.

CNET agreed with most other reviewers, noting that it offers "great sound but it's trapped in Apple's world." You'll only be able to use Apple's services with voice commands, and CNET said that "Siri and HomeKit lack Alexa and Google Assistant's polish and device compatibility." It praises the bass and "superior sound quality" when compared with other smart speakers.