Ten things nobody has told you about the Apple HomePod

“The Apple HomePod arrives in stores this Friday, February 9,” David Phelan reports for Forbes. “I’ve talked in depth to several senior Apple execs to get the skinny on what was behind the HomePod.”

“Something that’s only come to light recently is how long Apple has been working on it smart hi-fi speaker – more than six years, it seems,” Phelan reports. “Apple has its own audio labs, working on everything from telephony radio to microphones and beyond.”

MacDailyNews Take: So, to be clear, the issues – namely the inexplicable lack of multi-room audio and stereo pairing at launch, among other things – are the fault of the software team (iOS), not the HomePod hardware team. Of course the software teams at Apple are quite busy putting out many fires of their own making, so… Hopefully, they’re finally getting their act together.

Apple's all-new HomePod
Apple’s all-new HomePod

 
“Pick it up and you notice two things. It’s a pleasing, tactile experience thanks to the soft-touch mesh which covers it. And it’s heavy. It weighs 5.5lbs (2.5kg) which is more than you expect, again because that acoustically transparent mesh gives the HomePod an appearance that’s almost delicate, especially in the white finish,” Phelan reports. “In fact, it’s pretty robust. The weight is reassuring, and a lot of it is down to the woofer which sits in the middle.”

MacDailyNews Take: You may have heard someone say, “that speaker is too light to be any good.” It’s very true.

“It’s performing smart analysis of the music as you play it. Non-stop,” Phelan reports. “The HomePod analyzes music on the fly to work out what’s the main vocal, what’s background noise and so on. It then puts the background noise into the tweeters facing the wall and pumps the main sound directly out to the room. This continuous analysis happens because there’s a powerful processor in the HomePod, the Apple A8 chip.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Come on, Friday!

SEE ALSO:
TechCrunch reviews Apple’s HomePod: Easily the best sounding mainstream smart speaker ever – February 6, 2018
WSJ reviews Apple’s HomePod: Sounds far better than the popular smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and Sonos – February 6, 2018
CNET reviews Apple’s HomePod: Strong wireless speaker with awesome sound – February 6, 2018

22 Comments

  1. I can’t believe Sonos is letting this market slip through its hands. Clearly Stero pairing and multi-room support must be harder than it looks judging by how long its taking Apple to support it but Sonos has been doing this for YEARS. I love my Sonos but my family HATES it. They hate being forced to use the app, no bluetooth support, no airplay support, Aux cords don’t work without configuration from the app, etc. I always thought Sonos would get their act together but looks like they are just going to roll over and let Apple move in. Sadly I don’t think Apple will do a sound bar though, would LOVE it if they did but seems un-Apple like.

      1. “Once the software is updated” shouldn’t have to be a caveat for a product. I have purchased product assuming things would get fixed, only to have them release a new piece of hardware. See Apple watch and probably a lot more.

      2. A soundbar wouldn’t necessarily need to be elongated, but there are many design advantages that favor that shape. Moreover, a soundbar should have physical I/O, specifically HDMI and TOSLINK and more importantly be optimized for directional sound as opposed to immersive.

        Further, ideally, it should support advanced audio codecs, as well as work with satellite speakers for 5.1 channels or better.

        $700 is a ridiculous price for a soundbar that would be lacking in these areas.

        And no, I’m not anti-Apple or even anti-HomePod. I’ve pre-ordered one for Friday, but it won’t be in my home theater or use with any of my TVs. It’s just the wrong tool for the job.

  2. HomePod doesn’t do stereo LR now, and from the sounds of it, won’t ever do a traditional LR pair. A single HomePod uses information from both channels to calculate and construct a soundstage. I’d imagine two Homepods would have to communicate in a very different way to accomplish multi-speaker same room sound.

    I think this is one of the reasons it doesn’t handle traditional Bluetooth and requires Airplay 2 for multi-speaker operation.

    1. If the source material has multiple channels – stereo, 5.1, 7.1, etc. – then I see no reason why the channels cannot be divvied up among two, three, or more HomePods, each processing its channel data in concert with the rest. The way that Apple thinks and works, I can picture the HomePod AI working together with the rest to consistently parse the sound field so that the channels blend together properly and naturally. Given such a well-designed and capable device, the potential of the HomePod is massive.

      1. Only guessing from two clues – a single HomePod processes a stereo signal to generate a “stereo-like” sound stage and Stereo is easy – Apple could easily have let you designate a left and right HomePod with regular Airplay or BlueTooth.

        They are doing something else – analyzing the sound within the room and analyzing the source material to generate a sound field, even with a single HomePod. For that to work with multiple units (2-3-4 units), they would have to collaborate and be aware of each other, the room and the source material.

        To me, that precludes having a surround sound type designation of speakers. You will likely have a surround sound like experience, but one generated by HomePod, not by analog channel assignments.

  3. Maybe Apple could come up with a program (Logic Pro X) the industry could use for recording this audio, that when they save in a specific format for iTunes distribution could have all of these computations pre done and in the file no having to analyze and guess witch is the main vocal or the back ground ect.

      1. Considering the HomePod is tethered by a non-removable power cord, I don’t expect them to be moving much while in play. The most they’ll have to do is recalculate based on moving objects in the room (people, pets).

  4. I have a Sonos speaker and it has always been a software nightmare. It will play a tune only to change to another while playing. That is if you can get it to play what you want. I bought the homepod and hope it will play music clearly.

  5. Here’s the problem. Apple spent six years making this speaker sound incredible meanwhile the masses have been given smart speakers that can do way more things except give out exceptional sound for less cost. Which speaker sounds more appealing to own or should I ask Alexa and Google Home to answer that question?

    1. Press F1, that is not a problem.

      Apple is not selling this as a generic “small speaker” or even “smart speaker.” The facts that you can’t set one up without an iOS device (at least an iPod touch), that a number of the Siri-driven features only work with Apple Music, and that the home automation features require HomeKit devices should tell you that.

      HomePod is an “Apple Ecosystem Speaker.” Google, Amazon, and Sonos cannot be “more appealing to own” for that purpose because they do not compete in that market.

      If you aren’t interested in the HomePod’s product category, you should buy something else. Likewise, if you are uninterested in “exceptional sound for less cost,” this is not a product for you.

      Whether there is a viable market for Apple Ecosystem Speakers is certainly a debatable point, but it is pointless to criticize the HomePod for lacking features that are irrelevant for its target consumers.

    1. Since the target audience is Apple users who don’t have a audio system investment or don’t mind not being able to integrate HomePod into their exist audio system(s) I doubt those retailers are even blinking.

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