Apple’s version of the Amazon Echo is available now and sounds unbeatable, but as a home speaker it’s incredibly restrictive and… Apple-y.

Apple revealed last year that they would be bringing out their own home speaker following the massive success of Amazon’s Echo speakers. They’re a few years late to the party so Apple needed to make their speaker stand out and it’s audio quality definitely does that – but reviewers are saying that’s about all it has to offer.

So lets start with the positives, as a speaker the HomePod does incredibly well. Within it’s compact marshmallow design (it’s foamy exterior makes it feel like a marshmallow too) are eight individual speakers. There are 7 tweeters and 1, four-inch woofer behind the HomePod’s powerful and crisp audio.

The HomePod also has 7 microphones but talking to Siri is only what 6 of them are for. A microphone in the centre of the HomePod is able to measure the location of the woofer so that Apple can control the bass in the speaker precisely. This and other features were part of Apple’s, fairly successful goal, to create audio that doesn’t just sound good but adapts to always sounds great.

But beyond how it sounds Apple have yet again made a product that is all about Apple. It works great linking with iPhones, playing music from Apple Music, and so on. But Siri just doesn’t add up to the incredible AI power of Alexa or Google’s Assistant, and if you want to use her with services other than Apple well it’s unlikely it will work.

That’s not to say you can’t stream Spotify through the HomePod, but it’s not going to be the seamless experience you get with other home speakers. This is the real shame with the HomePod because you could almost justify paying over double the price of an Amazon Echo for the amazing audio quality, if the speaker did everything else to a good standard. As it stands the HomePod is a whole lot of potential for a whole lot of money, but it just doesn’t stand up.

The Verge have done some great reviews on their time with the HomePod: