While there’s no question that Apple is joining the smart speaker party a little bit late, Apple has never been one to rush a product to market in order to be first. From Apple’s vantage point, the ultimate goal is to release a product that simply outclasses the competition. Consequently, Apple had no qualms about delaying the HomePod release by a few months, all to ensure that the device worked as flawlessly as advertised.
“It doesn’t bother us that we are second, third, fourth or fifth if we still have the best,” Tim Cook said a little bit more than a year ago. “We don’t feel embarrassed because it took us longer to get it right. For Apple, being the best is the most important and trumps the other two by far.”
All that said, Apple’s HomePod release is just around the corner and many of the early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. More important than anything, the HomePod seems to deliver where it matters most as the device boasts best-in-class sound quality. As Nilay Patel from The Verge observed, the HomePod “sounds far better than any other speaker in its price range.”
There are some downsides, though, to the HomePod experience. While we already knew that Siri on the device was stunted, it turns out that the HomePod is not capable of discerning individual voices. This is rather bizarre given that the “Hey Siri” feature on the iPhone has been doing this as far back as iOS 9. This omission is problematic because it enables anyone to access a HomePod owner’s text messages.
This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you just click yes during all the setup prompts, literally anyone can ask the HomePod to send or read your text messages. Seriously, it’ll just read your texts to anyone if your phone is anywhere on the same Wi-Fi network, which usually reaches far beyond the same room as the HomePod. If your HomePod is in the kitchen and you’re in the basement, anyone can just roll up on the HomePod and have it read your texts. If you have kids, they can just text anyone at will while you’re in the bathroom and you can’t stop it.
In short, you’ll have to make sure that you turn this feature off lest you want folks having unfettered access to your texts. Notably, Patel asked Apple why the HomePod can’t make out individual voices but didn’t receive an instructive answer.