Even a Re-Released HomePod Could Have the Same Old Problems, Experts Worry

They’re already famous for Siri’s problems

  • Apple is rumored to be re-releasing the HomePod next year. 
  • The original HomePod was known for excellent sound quality but a poor digital assistant. 
  • Experts are worried Siri will hinder the re-released product all over again.
Someone using an iPhone with an Apple HomePod.

Daniel Cañibano / Unsplash

If Apple releases a newer version of the original, larger HomePod next year, experts worry it might suffer from the same Siri issues as it did the first time.

Recent rumors have Apple readying a new full-size HomePod for release in early 2023, with an updated version of the HomePod mini also expected. But the larger HomePod's return has tongues wagging because of the original's excellent sound quality. A refreshed model would likely build on that, but some experts are already worried that the speaker's Achilles heel will be a lackluster Siri—a smart assistant known for its instability and inability to do as it's asked.

"I'm absolutely concerned that Siri could let it down," Apple journalist Connor Jewiss told Lifewire via direct message. "For me, Siri is one of the biggest features that misbehaves the most."

A New HomePod Sounds Great

The original HomePod, first released in February of 2018, was well received for its excellent sound quality. Pairing two in a stereo pair improved matters considerably, creating a sound stage that had just one problem—the costly $349 asking price. Apple eventually corrected course by releasing the HomePod mini at $99, but it's much smaller and can't compete with the rich, full-bodied sound provided by the larger HomePod as a result. The original HomePod remains hotly desired by audiophiles despite being discontinued in 2021. Interestingly, the price of used HomePods skyrocketed as soon as the smart speaker was discontinued, suggesting there was still demand but not at the price Apple was charging. Not until it was too late to buy one, that is.

A single HomePod is pretty good, and a single HomePod mini is adequate. A matched pair is excellent.

Beyond the sound quality, a new, large HomePod is rumored to benefit from a more capable touch screen featuring support for multi-touch, potentially allowing people to bypass Siri for more commands. And that wouldn't be bad, considering Apple's digital assistant is regularly derided as one of the weakest aspects of HomePods.

But Then There's Siri

As good as it sounded, the HomePod never recovered from that high price. One of the problems people complained about the most was Siri, Apple's digital assistant that debuted on the iPhone and later spread across Apple's entire lineup. "Siri's inconsistency is what really bothers me," said App developer Mario Guzmán via Twitter.

Other complaints often center around Siri's refusal to correctly respond to common requests, sometimes refusing to carry out a command that worked days and sometimes hours ago. Searching social media for the term "Siri sucks" can be an enlightening experience and is perhaps indicative of the problem Siri has, both technologically and in terms of its image within the public.

By contrast, smart speakers featuring Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant are much more reliable. The Echo Dot, for example, is a small and inexpensive speaker—often sold on sale for around $25—that benefits from arguably the best digital assistant on the market. Apple won't allow third-party assistants to be used on HomePods, leaving people stuck with Siri. Siri has improved recently, of course, but it started its smart speaker life so far behind the competition that it continues to struggle to catch up.

Bringing it Back to Sound

But the Echo and Google Assistant-powered speakers all have one problem in the eyes of HomePod fans. They don't sound as good as a HomePod, and that's what buyers of the larger speaker often cling to. It's expected that a refreshed HomePod would continue to lead the way in sound quality, which might not be a problem for some people. For them, the way music sounds is all that matters. HomePod is the best smart speaker, despite Siri. Or, in the case of some people, multiple smart speakers.

"Paired HomePods isn't additive, it's multiplicative. A single HomePod is pretty good, and a single HomePod mini is adequate. A matched pair is excellent," Mike Wuerthele, managing editor of AppleInsider (who has nine HomePods at home), told Lifewire via direct message. That's a running theme among some HomePod users—they're willing to look beyond Siri's failings to get the best sound possible.

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