On the one hand, if you're an Apple fan - and an Apple Music subscriber, particularly - who wants the tightest integration with Siri, the HomePod is clearly the best (and indeed only) way to get both of those features. The devices should be running on iOS 11.2.5 or later to work with the HomePod.
The Sonos One can actually become Sonos Two. It aims to diffuse the background elements more gently (this is why the HomePod's seven tweeters are on the bottom - to use the surface it's on for spreading audio), while maintaining the energy of the more prominent parts.
Apple might want your money for a HomePod preorder, but Sonos is making a pitch for that $349 instead, with its Sonos One deal going live today.
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According to The Verge, the smart speaker - that will use Siri voice assistant - will then arrive in France and Germany sometime this spring. The device only works with a handful of (Apple) apps, like weather, maps, and reminders. If you're holding your unlocked iPhone, it'll assume you mean to activate the assistant on your phone, whereas if your iPhone is inactive, it'll assume you're talking to the HomePod. Considering that the Amazon Echo can be purchased for under $100, one might wonder why anyone would choose to buy the HomePod, but Apple is obviously marketing its speaker as a serious musical device. However as with Sonos, Bose and certain other Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speakers, you can splash out and pair two HomePods so they work as a true stereo pair. And as expected, industry watchers are now questioning whether the new device can compete with the market leader, Amazon's Echo. Apple was aiming for a consistent sound all the way around - whether you're standing next to, in front of, or behind HomePod, it should sound the exact same. You can still use HomePod for its other features, but you'll lose out on about half the device's capabilities.
At BESTAppleTV, we are also not sure of its success as an Apple TV addition.
Some people only go for Apple when it comes to technology. The smart speaker will not ship with features like AirPlay 2, which allows pairing and multi room audio.
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The final piece of the HomePod puzzle is its smart home functionality. It is smart, powered by Siri and capable of intelligently adjusting its output to its surroundings. I liked the design more than I thought I would, too. Announced last June, Apple's first smart speaker finally has a confirmed release date with pre-orders starting soon.
We will have much more to say in a full review, but on first impressions while the HomePod looks great, is super simple to set up and is undoubtedly powerful, the sound produced does not immediately match up to its £319 price tag.
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