HomePod is finally almost here, but will one size truly fit all or could we eventually see a whole family of smart speakers from Apple? Keeping with true Apple tradition, this is naturally the moment to wonder and ask: what about HomePod 2 and new variants? Check out our concepts below:
Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip
As part of his one-day tour of Canada yesterday, Tim Cook offered an interview to the Financial Post following his visit to e-commerce platform Shopify’s headquarters. Cook used the interview as an opportunity to tout Apple’s efforts in augmented realty, as well as talk about the HomePod…
Amazon and Google discounted their smart speakers so deeply in the holiday sales that they likely lost money on each unit, say analysts. Amazon discounted its Echo Dot to $29.99 in the run-up to the holidays, with the Google Home Mini also seen for the same price in various sales.
The two companies’ willingness to lose money on the hardware reveals their very different strategy to Apple with its upcoming HomePod speaker …
December 26, 2017
The App Store charts always provide some interesting nuggets of information on Christmas Day and other big holidays as you can see the sudden influx of app downloads.
This year, the Alexa app for Amazon Echo smart speakers topped App Store free charts, hitting the #1 in a few regions, with Google Home also charting in the top ten. Smart speakers were a hot holiday shopping item this year for sure.
December 6, 2017
When Apple unveiled the HomePod this past June at WWDC 2017, I didn’t give it too much of my attention. As a design piece, it looked like something I’d be happy to put in my living room. As a product, I just wasn’t interested. Smart speakers in general have seemed like little more than a novelty to me, and I’ve resisted buying one… until now. Last week I welcomed a Google Home Mini into my life to see if it could change my mind. Here’s what I found…
March 10, 2016
9to5Toys Last Call: Huawei Smartwatches from $270, Logitech 5.1 speakers $50, Hitman iOS bundle $1, more
TODAY’S CAN’T MISS DEALS
Last Call Updates:
Apple TV Deals: 4th Gen 64GB $175 (Reg. $200), 3rd Gen $49 (Reg. $69), more
- Our favorite Bluetooth speaker is on sale: grab the JBL Charge 2+ for $105 shipped (Reg. $125)
- App Store Indie Game Sale 50% off: The Room Three, BADLAND 2, Mutant Mudds, more
- Holmes Smart WeMo appliances: Air Purifier $150 (Reg. $200), X-Large Heater $100 (Reg. $200)
- Canon’s best-selling DSLR steps aside for the new Wi-Fi-enabled Rebel T6
- Samsung 19-inch 720P Slim VGA Display: $60 shipped at Amazon
- Get racing with Anki’s OVERDRIVE starter kit for $120 shipped (Reg. $150)
- Lenovo 11-inch Chromebook $179, Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11.6-inch Ultrabook $275, more
- Fitbit refurbs: Aria Wi-Fi Weight/Body Fat Smart Scale $58 (Orig. $130), more
- Two-pack of Google Chromecast Audio Streamers $55 (Reg. $70), more
- Brother Feature-Rich Sewing Machine $115 shipped (Reg. $145+)
- Sports/Fitness: 8-pc Resistance Band Set $13 (Orig. $23), more
- Home: Amazon Hoover sale w/ upright vacs from $100, more
Gold Box: Huawei watches for iOS and Android $80-$130 off, start at $270 shipped, Black Stainless: $320 shipped
Surround Sound 5.1-Ch. Systems: Logitech Z506 $50 (Orig. $100), Harman Kardon refurb $140 (Orig. $600)
Grab the Hitman GO & Hitman Sniper iOS bundle for just $1 (up to $10 value)
oneSafe Premium Password Manager on iOS goes free for the first time (Reg. $5)
Entry-level MacBook Deals: 11-inch Air $720 (Reg. $899), 13-inch Retina Pro $1,049 (Reg. $1,299)
Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi 32GB: $670 shipped (Reg. $799)
Apple iPad Pro 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular: $930 shipped (Reg. $1,079)
Apple iPad Pro 128GB Wi-Fi: $800 shipped (Reg. $949)
How-to: Use your car and an inexpensive inverter to replace the need for a home generator
The Room Three mystery-puzzler for iOS gets its very first price drop: $2 (Reg. $5)
BADLAND 2 for iOS gets its very first price drop: $2 (Reg. $5)
App Store Free App of the Week: Toca Kitchen 2 goes free for the first time ($2 value)
Dr. Seuss Birthday iOS/Android App Sale from $1 ea: The Lorax, One Fish Two Fish, Horton Hears a Who!, many more
Save $100 on Apple Watch and get a free $75 gift card + a watch band of your choice
MORE NEW GEAR FROM TODAY:
Daily Deals: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones $100, JBL Charge 2 Bluetooth Speaker $80, more
- Get a pair of Fandango movie tickets for just $16 (up to $26 value)
- Smartphone Accessories: Photive 6 Port USB Charger $20 Prime shipped, more
- Green Deals: GRDE 10000mAh Solar Dual-USB Power Bank $13, more
- Download 5 rare Paul McCartney songs in MP3 format for free
- simplehuman trash cans and soap pumps, deals from $12 Prime shipped
- Games/Apps: Nintendo 2DS handheld (refurb) from $60, iOS freebies, more
- Pick up a DJI Phantom 3 & $10 gift card for $744 shipped (Orig. $1,000)
MORE DEALS STILL ALIVE:
Solartab: Powerful Solar Panel/13,000mAh dual USB battery in iPad form factor: $94 shipped ($35 off)
Put an extra 256GB in your MacBook Air or Retina Pro w/ Transcend’s JetDrive Lite: $139 (Reg. $155)
- Smartphone Accessories: Aukey 10000mAh QC 2.0 Power Bank $17 (Reg. $25), more
- LEGO project on your iPhone w/ these Belkin cases, deals from $27
- Raspberry Pi Model B+ and 8GB SD Card $18 shipped (Reg. $40)
- Bluetooth speakers: UE Boom (Refurb) $80 (Reg. $100), more
- Canon All-in-One Printers w/ AirPrint: Laser $140 (Reg. $174+), InkJet $119 (Reg. $149)
- Console Wars Kindle e-Book details the battle between Sega and Nintendo for $2 (Reg. $15)
- WD Elements 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive: $70 shipped (Reg. $80)
- T-Mobile and AT&T both offering Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge in buy-one-get-one rebate deals
- The Blue Fairy Book Children’s Novel as a free Kindle eBook (Reg. $9)
- Magazine bundles w/ titles from $3.50/yr: Wired, Dwell, GQ, ESPN, many more
- Storage: Samsung 850 Pro 512GB 2.5-inch Internal SSD $199, Seagate 5TB Desktop HDD $120
- Media: $4.75 Blu-ray Sale – Gangs of New York, Cast Away, Dark Shadows
- Power banks: OLALA 4000mAh w/ Micro USB cable $9 (Reg. $13)
- UE’s highly-rated MEGABOOM Bluetooth Speaker for $200 shipped (Reg. $270)
- New Nintendo Select title pre-orders now 20% off from $16 shipped
- Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air in Black: $39 (Reg. $70+)
- Fashion: Gap 35% off sitewide – Slim Fit Oxford $32 (Reg. $50), Jeans, Hoodies, more
- Get a Free 3 Year Subscription to “Innovation & Tech Today” Magazine ($120 Value)
- This TP-Link 802.11n Wireless Travel Router is a no-brainer at $8 shipped (Orig. $40)
- Toshiba 1TB USB 3.0 HDD w/ 16GB Flash Drive + 16GB microSD card $50 (~$82 value)
- PNY’s LEGO USB Flash Drives: 16GB $7 (Reg. $13), 32GB $13 Prime shipped (Reg. $20)
- Amazon’s best-selling Kindle e-readers $20 off, deals as low as $60 w/ free shipping
- Canon Rebel T5 DSLR w/ 18-55mm & 75-300mm Lens Kit (refurb) $260, more
- Big screen 1080p 60Hz HDTVs: Insignia 50-inch $300, Toshiba 49-inch $300
- Mackie 5-inch studio monitor speakers w/ Bluetooth streaming (pair) $200 (Reg. $250)
- Mpow’s iPhone 6/s magnetic car mount is down to just $5 shipped today
- Pebble Time Round Smartwatch $180 (Reg. $200+), Gear S2 $249 (Reg. $300), more
- Disney finally shares Blu-ray combo pack release details for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Logitech’s popular MX Mouse lineup is on sale today: Anywhere 2 from $53 (Reg. $70+)
- Macphun’s Intensify CK (Pro) image manipulation app for Mac: $40 (Reg. $60)
12-inch MacBook now $300 off: 256GB $1,000, 512GB $1,300 + extra $50 savings w/ .edu email
Apple Mac Pro 12-core Xeon/64GB/1TB: $8,799 (Reg. $9,599), more
NEW PRODUCTS & MORE:
popSLATE’s second generation iPhone 6/s/Plus e-ink case drops the bulk for a slender design
- LittleBits’ latest creation focuses on robotic kits and STEAM education
- The new DODOcase Virtual Reality kit for iPhone and Android hits Indiegogo
- Amazon launches more affordable Echo Dot and Amazon Tap Bluetooth speaker
- New Normal blends style and PowerBeats-like design for a new take on wireless earbuds
- LEGO releases four new Minecraft sets
- How-to: Save up to $10/month on your cable bill by buying this $40 DOCSIS 3.0 Modem
- This attractive Kickstarter timepiece blocks out your schedule on its watch face
- DJI’s Phantom 4 drone is coming later this month with a new obstacle avoidance system
- Grovemade’s new wooden MacBook Dock offers a Made in America home for your device
- Brooklyn’s own Grado Labs introduces its first Made for iPhone earbuds w/ Siri control
January 5, 2015
Every year, top-ranked Apple speaker maker iHome comes to CES with an impressive array of new products — including something to show off Apple’s latest technology — and it isn’t disappointing at the 2015 CES. In an advance briefing before the show officially opened, iHome revealed its first Apple HomeKit product, SmartPlug ($40), as well as some daring new speaker and headphone designs…
…like the first speaker we’ve seen hidden inside a beautiful drinking flask. It’s called SoundFlask, and comes in coat pocket- ($50) and home bar-sized ($100) versions. Even the smaller version sounds really good given its size, and the flask cap twists to adjust the volume. All that’s missing is the ability to actually hold fluids. Read on for more.
ION Audio introduces new hybrid smart LED light bulb speakers and the Air LP Bluetooth turntable audio interface
As the new gear rolls in from our team on the show floor of CES 2015, consumer audio and electronics lifestyle company ION has a few announcements of its own. Makers of everything from Bluetooth speakers to headphones and DJ gear (among other things), ION Audio is introducing new hybrid light bulb speakers and a new Bluetooth turntable/audio interface…
The Sound Shine system consists of a pair of wireless LED light bulbs, that double as typical streaming speakers. The new product brings together the popularity of wireless Bluetooth audio and LED light bulbs to create a single unified experience. The pair of light bulb/speakers can be used in tandem for 2-channel stereo sound (if installed in light sockets within 30-feet of each other) or independently in different areas of your home or office. As for the light portion, this is your typical LED bulb with a 25,000 hour lifespan (“more than 20 years in normal use!”), that can be installed and powered in any normal light socket. ION says the bulbs are equalivalent to a soft white, traditional 60-watt light bulb.
Users can use the free iOS and Android smartphone/tablet apps to control the system in various ways: dim the lights, turn them on or off and control music playback all from the same hub. The Sound Shine system will begin shipping in March of this year with a suggested retail price of $129.99 (includes the pair). We are seeing an early listing on Amazon, but it is not yet available.
Not unlike its previous offerings, the new Air LP turntable offers vinyl enthusiasts a quick and easy way to digitize their collections. It also offers the ability to wirelessly stream vinyl directly from the needle to any standard Bluetooth speakers. While certainly possible previously with add-on analog to Bluetooth adapters and not likely an option for analog purists (simply because you are defeating the purpose running the audio over Bluetooth, in most cases), ION is offering a complete AD/DA solution in one singular unit that will certainly be helpful to some. The recent tear-jerker of an Apple ad shows one amazing way creative people can put this older tech to good use.
Using the included USB cable and EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter software, records (33 1/3, 45, and 78) can be transferred onto Mac or PC without the need for any working experience or advanced digital audio knowledge. There is also additional analog I/O available (1/8 inch input, RCA outs) for hooking up external gear (cassette, CD players, stereos) in order to take advantage of the built-in audio interface with other audio sources and destinations.
Air LP features a “sleek” black piano finish and is also expected to start shipping come March 2015. It will be available for $149 or $179.99 with a pair a Bluetooth speakers included.
Keep an eye on 9to5 all week long for all the best announcements from CES 2015.
9to5Mac’s CES 2015 coverage brought to you by:
May 9, 2013
Best Buy Apple sale: Airs $125 off, 15% off $100 iTunes card, $17 Smart Covers, Bluetooth speakers, Free games, more
Best Buy is taking $125 off the price of MacBook Airs for the next three days to celebrate Mother’s Day. That yields some of the lowest prices we’ve seen. The retailler knocks off $100 across the board, then using code MOM25 knocks off another $25.
Prices after discount:
- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/64GB: $874.99
- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: $974.99
- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: $1074.99
- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/256GB: $1274.99
Best Buy is also offering a $100 iTunes gift cad for $85. (Free Money!) That is a total savings of 15% off future purchases of Apps Music, Movies and any other content on the the App Store, iTunes, Mac App Store and iBook Store. This is the first iTunes deal we’ve seen in nearly 2 months and a perfect opportunity to surprise Mom on Mother’s Day.
- Those interested in an iPhone 4S can pick one up for $50 (half off) with contract.
- Best Buy also offers probably the best looking keyboard case out there, Targus – Versavu Keyboard Case for Apple® iPad – Bone White half off for $50.
- An 8GB Kingston Keydrive is $5
iMac $150 off sale on most current generation configurations, now starting at $1,150 shipped
Just a few weeks ago we saw an unprecedented sale from Best Buy on current generation iMacs and now Amazon has stepped up and surpassed that deal by offering a staggering $150 off 3 out 4 standard configuration iMacs.
Other amazing 9to5Toys.com deals from around the web:
- Genuine Apple iPad Leather Smart Cover $17 Shipped
- Logitech UE Mini Boombox Bluetooth speaker, “9to5Mac’s best portable speaker you can buy” (Refurb.) $59 (Save 40%) or a Jambox for $90
- Free and reduced Apps/Games: Asphalt 7 Free, Tiny Troopers 2 Free, Bastion $.99, Batman Arkham City $.99, MORE
- SanDisk – Mobile Ultra 4GB microSDHC Class 6 Memory Card $5 Shipped
- IM+ Pro on sale for $1.99 for a limited time (regular $9.99)
- Seagate Backup Plus 4 TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive $150 Shipped ($40 Savings)
- iLuv iPod/iPhone Alarm Clock with ‘Bed Shaker’ $20 Shipped
- 4 port USB car charger, 2.1A/5V for quick iPad charging: $8
- 24″ ViewSonic 1080p LED Monitor With HDMI -Refurbished-$135
Apple is officially releasing watchOS 4.3 for all Apple Watches today. The latest software update includes several new features and changes including restored Music control for iPhone libraries from Apple Watch, more data points on the Siri watch face, portrait orientation for Nightstand Mode, updated alerts when unlocking Macs, and several animation changes including charging and loading apps.
Our education specialist Bradley Chambers wrote a lengthy piece yesterday explaining the flaws in Apple’s iPad-centric education strategy. The whole piece is well worth a read, but he outlined three main barriers to the superficially attractive vision presented by Apple, even before you consider the purchase cost of the iPads themselves:
- Books are tied to Apple IDs, so schools would have to re-purchase textbooks annually
- Teachers simply don’t have time to create their own interactive books
- Apple’s apps don’t integrate with the established IT systems used by schools
But while the new budget iPad may not be a great fit for most schools, it is a smart move for the consumer market …
When it comes to HomeKit devices, our own Zac Hall is the resident expert around these parts, but I’m doing my best to come up to speed with the plethora of options available. I recently took my first stab at installing a smart lock, the 3rd gen August Smart Lock, only to later find out that it wasn’t HomeKit compatible. It’s primarily my fault, because I wasn’t diligent enough with my research, but August, with its somewhat confusing nomenclature should take a portion of the blame as well.
Needless to say, I wasn’t keen on the idea of having a smart lock installed without HomeKit support. That would mean that I couldn’t unlock my door with Siri commands, couldn’t use the Home app to control the lock, and couldn’t use HomeKit automation to trigger other HomeKit-enabled devices. In other words, a smart lock without HomeKit support is just not something that appeals to me.
That’s not to say that the third-generation August Smart Lock is a bad product, because that certainly isn’t the case. It’s actually a decent product that’s inexpensive and easy to install. It’s just not for those who are knee-deep in the Apple/HomeKit ecosystem.
I reached out to Yale Real Living to inquire about reviewing its Assure Lock SL, which recently landed support for HomeKit via its iM1 network module. What I discovered was a modestly-featured smart lock with a fair amount of advanced controls. In fact, I’m strongly considering the purchase of another one. expand full story
We are now one month out since HomePod was released, and I’ve been using Apple’s smart speaker every day since it launched. First on the road while traveling, then at home with a variety of other smart speakers.
My thoughts on HomePod have shifted over that period, but my key takeaway is this: HomePod is the best smart speaker for Apple Music subscribers in the Apple ecosystem, but the experience needs to evolve before it’s ready for the masses.
The bottom line for me is that I really enjoy using HomePod myself — for hours at a time every day — but I wouldn’t gift HomePod (or any other smart speaker) to a family member just yet. HomePod just isn’t that straightforward yet. Apple Watch crossed the family friendly threshold for me with version two, and AirPods were gift-worthy from day one for comparison.
HomePod instead feels more like the fourth generation Apple TV. That product debuted with new capabilities like Siri control and an app platform, but took a few software updates over several months to feel closer to complete with a proper remote app and basic features like dictating text in search boxes and app folders.
HomePod has a lot of that low hanging fruit just waiting to be picked — not to mention major feature additions that could dramatically improve the experience for mainstream customers — all without requiring new hardware.
Those of you who’ve been following my Smart Home Diary series will know that I’ve learned a number of lessons – some of them the hard way. But I thought it would be useful to distill these into a single piece offering my best advice for anyone planning to create a smart home from scratch today.
And that advice begins with considering whether or not creating a smart home is a smart choice for you …
It’s no secret that HomePod has been one of the more divisive Apple products to launch in recent years. Whether it’s because of sound quality or Siri capabilities, people either love Apple’s smart speaker or hate it.
Now, we’re curious: If you’ve had the chance to try HomePod and some of its competitors, what smart speaker do you think sounds best?
The highly anticipated $349 HomePod arrived on Friday afternoon, and I’ve been playing around with it for the last day or so. A few things, like the speaker’s build quality and design, are things that I can immediately appreciate upon unboxing. The one surefire conclusion that I can make after using the HomePod is that Apple has, as we know by now, prioritized sound quality over everything else. expand full story