Siri or Skynet?

A few months ago I bought a HomePod, more out of curiosity than to fulfil any particular use case I had in mind. From my research ahead of buying, I think Amazon’s Alexa is ahead of Apple at the moment, having a greater number of devices to integrate with and a brain that’s a bit more intelligent, but all my IT infrastructure at home is Apple-based and I’d back Apple to catch up with Amazon eventually.

The only hardware extension I have for my HomePod is a Phillips Hue light that Siri will switch on and off for me when I shout the appropriate commands at the HomePod. This saves much wear and tear on my index finger.

It’s largely fine, although I don’t use it much. I use it to switch the aforementioned lights on and off, I’ll sometimes add stuff to my shopping list by talking to Siri and I use it to play music. The latter of those things is the HomePod’s forte — it has a better speaker than the offerings from Amazon and Google.

Would I recommend it? Probably not, at least not just yet. For functionality you’re better off with Alexa and at £320 the HomePod is at least £100 overpriced. As I said above, though, I expect Apple to catch up with Amazon and if you run a largely Apple-based ecosystem you might choose a HomePod over the others to ensure long-term compatibility with your devices.

The puzzling thing about the HomePod is that it sometimes does things it hasn’t been asked to do. In the last few months there have been roughly half a dozen occasions where the HomePod has just taken it upon itself to do something. It always happens when I’m chatting to someone in my living room and the only constant is that nobody has said the “Hey Siri” command that’s supposed to activate the unit.

It switched the lights off one evening, it randomly launched a Blink 182 playlist amidst a conversation I was having about football with a friend and it has launched into a long monologue about something unrelated to my conversation a few times. It gets a firm “Hey Siri, shut up” when it does these things.

Presumably it has done these things because Siri has hearing problems, which which I can sympathise because my ears don’t work properly either. I never seem to hear when people ask me to do any work for example. What Siri must be doing is hearing “Hey Siri” when it hasn’t actually been said.

I suspect that’s what’s really happening but it’s spooky when it happens and my imagination starts to run with the idea that Skynet has assumed control, perhaps trying to torture me with Blink 182 playlists. I half expect a nude Arnold Schwarzenegger to materialise in my living room and say “Give me your clothes”.

Anyway, I’ll wait and see what happens on Judgement Day.