HomePod Overview Updated July 22, 2020

HomePod

The new sound of home

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304 'HomePod' stories

May 2016 - July 2020


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

HomePod Stories July 22

We’ve had stereo-paired HomePods for more than two years now, but one big frustration remains for Mac users: you can only use them with certain Apple apps, like Music and TV. All other Mac sound can be output to one speaker or the other, but not to both.

I was, however, pointed to a solution of sorts…

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HomePod Stories July 7

Just as iOS 14 will let users replace Safari and Mail with other third-party apps as default, the update also includes a new option to change the default services on the HomePod.

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HomePod Stories June 22

We haven’t got many details on this yet, but a slide in the WWDC presentation reveals that Apple is updating the HomePod to support third-party music services, like Spotify. Right now, the HomePod only works natively with Apple Music.

Presumably, this will require apps to update to integrate with a new API or framework that allows their services to run on the HomePod itself. Theoretically, this means the HomePod can now be controlled by Spotify, although Spotify is yet to commit to a release timeframe. This will be the first time Apple has allowed third-party software to run natively on the HomePod hardware.

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HomePod Stories June 3

HomePod was introduced back in 2017, but since then, the future of Apple’s smart speaker is uncertain. More recently, however, we’ve heard rumors about a new “HomePod mini” that is expected to be announced this year.

If you’re planning to buy a new HomePod, read on as we walk you through what you need to know.

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HomePod Stories May 23

Ex-Apple designer Christopher Stringer set to compete against HomePod and Sonos with new home audio startup

A long time Apple designer Christopher Stringer is set to launch a new home audio product as part of a new startup ‘Syng’. Stringer left Apple in 2017 after more than 20 years at the company. Stringer is believed to have left Apple partly because of Jony Ive’s retirement from product responsibilities.

HomePod Stories April 23

A combined research team from Apple and Carnegie Mellon University have shown dumb devices made smart. They created a demonstration video (below) to accompany an academic paper.

Rather than every device you own having to be smart, the approach proposes that something like a HomePod be trained to work out what is happening in the home …

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