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HomePod

The new sound of home

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At its Worldwide Developer Conference in 2017, Apple officially took the wraps off of its oft-rumored speaker in the form of HomePod. The device acts as a standalone way for users to interact with Siri, play music, and more. Tim Cook touts this as Apple’s effort to “reinvent home music” just as it did with products like the iPod.

Prior to announcing Apple’s product, Phil Schiller explained that Apple has worked to take what companies like Sonos and Amazon have done and create a “breakthrough home speaker.”

Schiller explained that a successful speaker must “rock the house,” have “spatial awareness,” and “be a musicologist.”

To offer strong sound quality, the devices features a 7 tweeter array with precision acoustic horns and directional control. There’s also an Apple-designed 4-inch woofer and it’s powered by Apple’s A8 chip. It measures in at just under 7-inches tall and features a mesh design.

Here’s how Apple describes HomePod:

HomePod is a powerful speaker that sounds amazing, adapts to wherever it’s playing, and together with Apple Music, gives you effortless access to one of the world’s largest music catalogs. All controlled through natural voice interaction with Siri. It takes the listening experience to a whole new level. And that’s just the beginning.

HomePod 11.4 Software Update

HomePod

HomePod’s 11.4 update shipped with two notable features — AirPlay 2 and Stereo Pairing (originally promised at launch, but was delayed). It also included Calendar support, which lets you check, add, edit, and delete appointments to configured calendars.

AirPlay 2

The flagship feature of the 11.4 update was the long-awaited launch of AirPlay 2. The biggest advantage that AirPlay 2 brought to the table is multi-room audio support. AirPlay 2’s multi-room audio allows iOS users to stream music or podcasts to supported devices in any room using Control Center’s destination controls, in-app controls, or Siri.

With AirPlay 2 you can do things like:

  • Quickly see what’s playing in every room on every speaker
  • Play the same song, in sync, in every room
  • Play different songs on different speakers
  • Use Siri to play different songs in different rooms
  • Stream to rooms without grouping speakers

Because speakers are configured via the Home app, they are easily assigned to rooms, and users can address those specific rooms when using Siri.

Stereo Pairing in HomePod

Stereo pairing utilizes an Apple-designed wireless peer-to-peer direct link to talk with each other and play music in sync. Thanks to the A8 SoC, each HomePod is able to automatically sense its location in the room, and establish its own audio channel (left or right). In other words, there’s very little end-user configuration needed once a stereo pair is established.

The advanced beamforming provides a wider soundstage than a traditional stereo pair setup. Apple says that by stereo pairing two HomePods, an almost three-dimensional soundstage is created, providing room-filling sound with enhanced bass extension, and a deeper, more accurate reproduction of low frequencies.

Creating a HomePod stereo pair is straightforward, and when two HomePods are set up in the same room, users are automatically prompted to create a stereo pair.

HomePod Pricing

HomePod originally launched at $349, but it saw a price cut to $299 on April 4th, 2019.

Grab HomePod at low prices at Best Buy and eBay or check for the latest deals at 9to5toys.com.

HomePod mini

9to5Mac has heard rumors about a new “HomePod mini” that is expected to be announced in 2020. According to a Bloomberg report, the HomePod mini is expected to keep the same cylindrical design as the larger version, but it would be about half the current product’s size.

Apple is unlikely to sacrifice audio quality to make a cheaper version of the HomePod, but keep in mind that having less physical space means the speakers will be reduced, and consequently, the sound may be lower than in the current HomePod model.

Besides, the HomePod mini should also have Siri for voice commands and AirPlay 2 for pairing it with other compatible speakers.

Should you buy a HomePod now or wait for the HomePod mini? Read our HomePod buyer’s guide.

Top Stories

Concept: Apple TV and HomePod would be a match made in tech heaven, here’s what a mashup could look like

With the latest round of HomePod rumors from Bloomberg comes a particularly big one. Apple is looking to combine the Apple TV and the HomePod into a singular product. They’re also testing ways to incorporate a FaceTime camera into the device for calls in the living room. While our concept imagines what this product might look like, it’s truly a shot in the dark. A product like this might require an entirely new design from Apple rather than some kind of Frankenstein monster made up of different pieces of the HomePod and Apple TV 4K. We tried putting the best of each together to imagine a product that would feel familiar to customers.

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Concept: How Apple could combine the best of HomePod, Apple TV, and iPad to create the perfect smart display

As my colleague Zac Hall noted yesterday, the Apple home strategy is kind of a mess. It truly warrants a conversation around what the company wants to accomplish in customers’ homes. Because Apple TV and HomePod are both in weird states, it occurred to me that it might be valuable to imagine how the two product lines could come together. Enter HomePod TV…

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Here are 5 smart speaker alternatives to fill the void left by Apple’s HomePod

In a surprising move, Apple discontinued the original HomePod without announcing a replacement. While HomePod mini lives on and does do some things even better than its predecessor like smart home connectivity with Thread, it doesn’t offer the same audio experience. Let’s look at 5+ of the best HomePod alternatives now that HomePod has moved on.

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Comment: The state of Apple TV and end of HomePod warrants a Home strategy roundtable

Apple’s Friday night move to suddenly pull the plug on HomePod after three years has created a messaging problem. Is everything OK at home, Apple? That’s the question being asked by customers who have invested in Apple’s smart home pitch.

You can trust that Apple will continue to make new iPhones and Macs for the foreseeable future, but Apple’s home products resemble Google’s betting strategy more than Apple’s usual commitment to focus and delivery.

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[Update: Post-mortem] Here’s how HomePod mini compares to HomePod

HomePod mini vs HomePod comparison

Apple debuted the HomePod mini back in October with an all-new spherical design and impressive list of features and specs priced at $99 — $200 less than the list price of its bigger brother. Read on for a detailed HomePod mini vs HomePod comparison.

Update 3/15/21: Now that the original HomePod has been discontinued you might be wondering if it’s worth picking one (or more?) up before they’re totally sold out. Or maybe you’re just curious about the unique features of the larger HomePod like Dolby Atmos, spatial awareness, and richer sound.

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Feature Request: HomePod needs to properly count Apple Music played songs and stats

HomePod and even the new HomePod mini don’t count songs when you ask Siri to play something on your smart speaker. This affects your Apple Music Replay statistics and integration with third-party Apple Music applications.

Luckily, there is a workaround, but hopefully this is something Apple fixes sooner rather than later.

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The crazy journey of empty iPad boxes halfway across the world and back

Some empty iPad boxes making a crazy journey halfway across the world and back is a surreal illustration of the distribution challenges Apple is facing during the pandemic.

Apple has historically relied on buying cargo capacity on passenger flights to ensure products arrive in the right country at the right time, but the coronavirus crisis has of course decimated the air travel industry …

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Apple adding support for stereo-paired HomePods as default sound output with macOS 11.3 beta

Users can already pair two HomePods in stereo mode and set them as audio output on iPhone, iPad, and even Apple TV. However, using a stereo pair of HomePods on a Mac is not that easy. macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta, which was released today for developers, finally adds an option to set stereo-paired HomePods as the default sound output on Mac.

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iOS 14.4’s HomePod proximity notifications driving you nuts? Here’s how to turn them off

With the introduction of iOS 14.4, Apple added new features for HomePod mini owners that make it easier to handoff music or podcast playback from your iPhone to it. Devices with the U1 chip have unique proximity functionality that cause your phone to vibrate and physically tell you when your phone gets close to a HomePod mini. It’s a great feature in theory, but it’s become incredibly annoying in practice.

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How to use HomePod Intercom feature

Unwrap a new HomePod? Here’s how to set up the Intercom feature

One of the biggest new features to arrive for HomePod this year is Intercom support. And the handy feature is now available to more people than ever with HomePod mini arriving and many likely being gifted one over the holidays. Follow along for how to set up and use the HomePod Intercom feature on the smart speakers and your other Apple devices.

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