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Sonos made a playlist for Apple's HomePod launch

10 February 2018

"Seriously." when Apple Music launched in 2015.

Apple HomePod is the company's first major new hardware launch since the Apple Watch, which debuted in 2015. Amazon invented the category in 2015 with its line of Echo speakers, and there are now similar options available from Google and Microsoft.

A slew of reviews for Apple's new smart speaker HomePod dropped on Tuesday, and they all come to the same conclusion: It's good - if you can afford it and only use Apple products such as the iPhone and services such as Apple Music.

By contrast, the assistants in three other smart speakers that we've tried at the CRN Test Center-Alexa in the Amazon Echo, Google Assistant in the Google Home, and Cortana in the Harman Kardon Invoke-are adept at managing calendars.

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Siri may be your HomePod's voice controlled DJ and smart assistant, but you don't have to control playback exclusively by voice if you don't want to.

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. But there are many more restrictions to using HomePod as a home assistant, such as not being able to hail an Uber ride or to schedule a meeting on a calendar, according to the New York Times.

When using Apple Music though, the HomePod can display an impressive level of knowledge.

"If you don't like Apple Music, don't buy a HomePod", said Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch.

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- Do I need an existing Apple device for it to work?

Note that the $199 Sonos One is able to use Alexa now, is adding Google Assistant support via a software update in the near future, and will have support for streaming music via Apple's upcoming AirPlay 2, as well.

HomePod is an exceptional home music player, the best in its price range and several above it, offering a music listening experience that will delight any audiophile. We expect this will be fixed in a software update, but it's a very surprising omission from any speaker, let alone a "smart speaker". Once you see that light, unlock your iPhone or iPad and place it next to the HomePod.

Multi-user support: If HomePod's going to be in a home, it should support voiceprinting for multiple people in the home, making it easy for anyone to ask questions and get personalized answers, or access data that's permitted to be accessed via individuals' iPhones or iPads. Apple calls it "Personal Requests", though right now HomePod isn't entirely personal. The smart speaker offers voice-controlled access to not only your Apple Music account but potentially to messages and more on your iPhone, too. The process takes just a couple of minutes, just make sure you have an iOS device handy - you can't set it up without one.

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Sonos made a playlist for Apple's HomePod launch