Matthew Cassinelli on his blog:
Below is a table of the all the new Automation triggers in Siri Shortcuts. This list is not finalized as the Shortcuts app is still in beta, however it is as current as possible.
I can’t wait to start experimenting with the new Shortcut actions and HomeKit once all my devices are on iOS/iPadOS/tvOS/HomePodOS/watchOS 13.
Saqib Shah, for Engadget:
As first impressions go, there’s the glaringly obvious: this device looks like a HomePod doppelgänger, complete with a stout, cylindrical design with control buttons at the top. But, at 399 yuan ($60) it doesn’t cost nearly as much as Apple’s $349 gadget. It also comes in black and white.
There are many words in the English language but I don’t know one that would sufficiently describe how pathetic the copycat trend is. What kind of designer would be actually proud of this work?
Benjamin Mayo, for 9to5Mac:
Apple has seeded a private beta for HomePod to Apple corporate and (some) retail employees for a while. iGeneration is reporting that the HomePod OS 12.0 beta, presumably set to be released alongside iOS 12 in the fall, has several major new features for Siri on the HomePod.
The beta reportedly includes phone call features, allowing the user to start and answer calls from the HomePod, as well as Find My iPhone Siri command, and perhaps most dramatically — support for multiple timers are apparently on the cards.
I talk to my HomePod several times per day, just to control the music being played. I really hope Apple figures out how to minimize the need to constantly repeat “Hey Siri” — this is currently the most frustrating element of my experience with this particular assistant. I would love feature parity between platforms too, with the ability to hand off queries to my iPad or iPhone, whichever I happen to be closest too or pick up first.
You can now buy the HomePod in:
I’m tempted to get one more for my living room…
Jason Snell, for Six Colours:
Once that was done, I was free to play music in stereo from two HomePods. The volume is impressive—one HomePod did an okay job of filling my living room, but two HomePods can do it with no trouble. Stereo separation was clear, as I ran through a bunch of aggressive stereo mixes (The Beatles!), live albums (“Peter Gabriel Plays Live”—take that, “Hell Freezes Over”), and a collection of other tracks I’m familiar with. It all sounded good.
At the current price the HomePod is awfully pricey to be deployed in a stereo pair—for half price you can pair two Sonos One speakers—but it does sound very good. And in proper stereo, something that one HomePod—for all Apple’s talk of creating a “3-D sound field”—could not achieve alone.
I’m actually tempted to get one more HomePod myself, despite Siri being next to useless for anything but controlling music playback. I’d also happily welcome a 5.1 wireless home theatre system for Apple TV or perhaps a soundbar — they could show off their computational audio advances in the latter.
Zac Hall received Apple’s official statement on the topic of their AirPort routers:
We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products. They will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last.
I’m surprised they chose to exit this market, especially since integrating mesh Wi-Fi into their existing products could be such a huge feature. I’d love for my HomePods and Apple TVs to extend the internet automatically in and around my house. This would additionaly be a great incite to actually buy more HomePods and would allow people to have less clutter in their houses.
Chaim Gartenberg, writing for The Verge:
So, it turns out that I can never change my Wi-Fi network’s name ever again, or my speakers will stop working. That may sound ridiculous, but let me walk you through the series of bad decisions and technological quirks that have brought me here.
This is my biggest worry regarding my HomePod. I wouldn’t be as worried if it had a newer SoC, Bluetooth, and a backup 3.5 mm line-in port.
Andrew Fafen, on his blog:
The HomePod has great sound quality, but right now it’s limited to playing audio from Apple Music or AirPlay clients like the iPhone or iPad. But what if you want to play audio from other sources? Ideally the HomePod would have a line-in port, show up as a Bluetooth speaker, and support other streaming services like Spotify. But Apple decided not to include a line-in port, hasn’t yet implemented Bluetooth speaker support in the OS, and hasn’t yet natively supported other streaming services.
Hopefully Apple will eventually address these shortcomings on the HomePod itself, but for now I’ve come up with my own solution. I’ve taken a Raspberry Pi Zero W […] and written software that takes audio input from line-in or Bluetooth and outputs it wirelessly to the HomePod via Airplay. I call it BabelPod since it acts as a universal translator between audio devices.
I love solutions such as this one, because while they shouldn’t be necessary — the HomePod should have Bluetooth audio streaming support and a line-in port included — they do solve the problems of some people.
My HomePod needed 5 minutes to update to iOS 11.3. My Series 0 Apple Watch is at over 5 hours now, and the end is nowhere in sight.
At this point, I’m tempted to try to force it to restart — it appears to be doing nothing.
I had to restart the HomePod today, because it wouldn’t play any music. Talking to Siri, asking her to play something, resulted in an “OK”, followed by silence.
I unplugged it from power and after plugging it back in, it now appears to function correctly. Just like Windows 3.1, back when I was a bit younger.
I discovered an interesting tidbit regarding setting the HomePod’s volume:
- The buttons on top of the HomePod change the volume in 5% increments on each tap.
- The voice command “Hey Siri, louder / quieter”, “Hey Siri, increase / decrease the volume”, etc. changes the volume in 10% increments.
Also, Siri really shouldn’t need to hear the “Hey” in “Hey Siri” every single time I need something from her.
“Siri, just do it.”
I said I wouldn’t get the iPhone X, but I did. That was an exception since the deal I got on it was too good to pass up and I ended up paying less than for a new iPhone 8. I did not expect to get as good a deal on the HomePod. To be quite frank, it wasn’t even close percentage-wise to the aforementioned one, but I still went for it, figuring I could sell it on if didn’t satisfy my needs.
It hasn’t blown me away so far, but it’s only been an hour or so, so here’s keeping my fingers crossed.
Matthew Panzarino, in probably the best edit I have ever seen:
I apparently completely invented a term — ‘FullRoom’ — for this feature that Apple says is not actually the name for this feature. I have no idea why FullRoom was in my notes, but it’s a figment of my imagination, not an actual thing. Apologies.
If you’re not looking for Siri or don’t use HomeKit, there’s a vast array of speakers, which support AirPlay, that could can purchase, from the likes of Devialet, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Bang & Olufsen, and more. We’ll need to wait for AirPlay 2 support from competing products (the HomePod doesn’t have it either at the moment), but for people who don’t need a digital assistant and want more versatility (e.g. Spotify), there are many interesting options out there that range from 100 to many thousands of dollars.
I’m mentioning this because ‘everyone’ keeps on saying how the HomePod doesn’t really compete with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, but they fail to include any comparisons or even acknowledge the existence of more traditional solutions to listening to music or audio.
Jeremy White, for Wired:
[…] on first impressions while the HomePod looks great, is super simple to set up and is undoubtedly powerful, the sound produced does not immediately match up to its £319 price tag.
This is in contrast to what many others are saying, that the HomePod delivers audio quality, which exceeds much more expensive setups.
Madeline Buxton, writing for Refinery29:
However, there are some areas where HomePod is limiting. Even though you can use AirPlay to stream music from any service through HomePod, you’ll only get all the speaker’s benefits if you subscribe to Apple Music (plans start at $4.99 per month for students and $9.99 per month for individuals). For example, Siri won’t be able to tell you detailed information about a song or album unless that song is playing through Apple Music.
I strongly believe Apple should have included an Apple Music subscription for free with every HomePod — for the lifetime of the device preferably, but I’m sure a free year wouldn’t go amiss for many. This would at least quell some of the complaints, which we know will surface.
Secondly, although everyone in your apartment will be able to use the speaker, only the person who sets up HomePod on their iCloud account will be able to send texts, set up reminders, and get calendar notifications via voice commands. Google Home and Amazon Echo, meanwhile, can recognize different voices and provide personalized content accordingly.
Support for multiple users should work on Day 1 and there is no excuse for the lack of this feature.
Fortunately, HomePod also delivers where it counts: The sound. When I listened to the speaker next to Google Home Max, the latest Amazon Echo, and Sonos One, the vocals were consistently crisper and clearer on HomePod. The pluck of guitar strings pops, and bass notes have the robust thump-thump you want from them.
This is the one aspect of the HomePod, which I don’t doubt — I’m sure the sound quality will be more than good.
Peter Cao, writing for 9to5Mac:
HomePod specs are indicating that Apple is serious about the audio quality on the device. Today, we’ve discovered that the smart speaker will support FLAC out of the box.
For those unaware, FLAC is a lossless format, meaning there is no compression whatsoever and recordings are kept as is. Not to be confused with lossy, which is used by most music streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music and is usually compressed to 256 or 320Kbps.
How would this work, since the HomePod supposedly will not have access to music in our iTunes Libraries, which wasn’t purchased via the iTunes Store? Siri seems to be out of the question.
[…] AirPlay 2 will be able to transmit lossless audio to the Apple-branded smart speaker.
Can we store FLAC on our iOS devices in Apple Music on iOS 11.3? Or do we need to stream from a Mac, which means we would have to control playback from there?
I often stream music from my iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker when at home. I keep on wondering if the HomePod, since it should have access to my account, will takeover the AirPlay stream if I want it to. That would be preferable — if I leave, the HomePod can just keep on playing if my family is home.
“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”
Kudos to Apple for not releasing the HomePod in beta, but having said that, this is their second delay in recent history. The AirPods did turn out to be fantastic however, so I’m sure they’ll figure this one out. What worries me more is that Siri is not progressing as fast as she should be and the competition is already on their second gen devices. Not something they can’t recover from, but with this device debuting in only three countries, it sounds as if it’s Apple’s new hobby.
Juli Clover, writing for MacRumours:
This shouldn’t come as any surprise given that it’s already the 20th of October, but Apple has no plans to hold an event to introduce new products this month. Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi confirmed there will be no October event in an email to MacRumors reader Luke.
“Will we see an October keynote event?” Luke asked. “I think we’re all Keynoted out for the season! :-)” Federighi replied.
While I understand that there’s not much need for an iMac Pro unveiling — it will be a niche product — I’d be truly surprised if they don’t show off the HomePod. Perhaps they’ll go for personal briefings with select journalists? They’ve been known to do that before.
In general, I found the HomePod to sound quite good, with a powerful bass and great clarity in the treble. However, in a few cases—Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” was the one that really struck me—I felt that the Sonos Play:3 more accurately reproduced the feel of the track, while the (extremely early, pre-release version of the) HomePod’s clever audio processing technology spread the bass and vocals out so much that it didn’t sound right anymore.
Of course, with the HomePod half a year away from shipping, there’s probably a lot of software tweaking yet to be done in terms of audio processing.
This sounds very promising! I’m definitely looking to get at least one. The HomePod is missing one feature that I would love to see — the ability to use two, three or five of them, to set up a 2.0, 3.0 or 5.0 surround sound system for my Apple TV. I realise that this wouldn’t be cheap, but… no wires!