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Testing shows that Apple’s new smart speaker isn’t quite as smart as some of its rivals, answering a range of questions with just 52.3% accuracy.
Rigorous testing by LoupVentures – in which it asked over 700 varied questions to three separate HomePod devices – showed it coming in dead last against rival smart assistants. For comparison: Amazon’s Alexa scored 64%, Microsoft’s Cortana scored 57%, and Google Home ruled the roost with an impressive 80% success rate.
On first glance that might seem pretty bad, but there are two mitigating factors to soften the blow.
First of all is the fact that as a new device, many of Siri’s “domains” aren’t activated on HomePod, meaning it won’t even attempt to answer certain topics, instead handing off to the nearest iPhone or iPad. Remove some of the questions HomePod isn’t designed to handle – navigation and emails, for example – and suddenly its success rate jumps up to 67%. Additionally, HomePod’s voice recognition proved far superior to its rivals even with loud music playing, understanding more than 99% of spoken queries.
Secondly is the fact that, unlike its rivals, HomePod is designed very much as a speaker first, assistant second. Its main aim is to provide a seamless music experience with excellent sound, and pretty much everyone agrees that its audio quality is leaps and bounds above the competition. Siri’s inclusion is primarily as an interface for the music playback, with the “smarts” a side benefit.
See Apple’s video below for an example of how Siri is used to control HomePod.
All this is worth taking into consideration if you’re thinking of buying a smart speaker of some kind; if you value sound quality and privacy then HomePod can’t be beat, but if you’re looking for a hands-free device that can handle your appointments and respond to trivia questions then it might be worth looking beyond Apple.