HomePod Year One
Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch… all of them were fascinating, mostly game-changing new products with superb new user practice yet sincerely comfortless reduction that prevented them from being truly transformative until during slightest a second generation.
That’s when Apple TV switched from Lobot macOS to a various of iOS, iPhone got 3G, GPS, and apps, iPad got lighter, faster, and multitasking, and Apple Watch began to concentration on fitness.
Because of Apple’s prolonged pre-release growth cycles, a initial versions get large amounts of courtesy yet don’t mostly strike a target, not exactly. But since of their discerning iteration cycles, engineering can get it closer fast, and marketing… well, selling can mostly redraw a targets.
Apple began operative on what became HomePod a good half-a-decade ago, prolonged before a arise of products like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Back then, a thought unequivocally was to make a orator we could put anywhere and that would sound good no matter where we put it or where we stood relations to it. And, since it would be a orator and not have a screen, Siri was customarily a approach you’d control it.
Apple got flattering tighten with a initial part: It’s a stunningly legit goram computational audio spectacle how good a thing sounds as we transport around a room.
But, by a time it was released, were were entirely into a age of low cost, commoditized Alexas and Assistants, and roughly no one finished adult caring about how good HomePod sounded — customarily how many it cost and how good and entirely Siri worked on a shelf.
There are a few ways we consider Apple could start branch all this around in Year Two.
Apple never competed with netbooks. Instead, they shipped a MacBook Air and iPad. In a same way, we don’t design Apple to contest directly with commodity home hubs that are mostly subsidized by large information harvesting and exploitation, or as loss-leaders for equally large online stores.
But, Apple does do mini.
Mac mini, iPod mini, iPad mini… HomePod mini.
Not everybody wants or needs a room-filling speaker. For some, a smaller orator for a kitchen, bedroom, or to transport with and take in a camper or to a hotel room, would be ideal. Even and generally in a kid’s room where, frankly, you’d have to be out of your mind to put a competing intelligent device formed simply on new information violations alone.
It still wouldn’t be a $50 Amazon Echo aspirant — Apple wouldn’t do inexpensive speakers any some-more than it would do inexpensive netbooks — yet it would be a smaller orator for those who wish to fill smaller bedrooms and nooks, and it would come with smaller cost tab to compare as well.
And, if past is voluntary in any way, a operation of funner colors that Apple seems to bashful divided from on a flagships.
Of course, Apple could also follow a tradition of simply introducing a new current-sized HomePod and dropping a cost of a strange by $100 or some-more to container it in underneath, or repackage it as an iPhone 5c or Apple Watch Series 1 various to accomplish a same thing.
But we like a thought of a HomePod mini as well. Again, like iPhone SE and iPad mini, it’s not customarily about a reduce price, it’s also about a smaller profile.
I kind of get since Apple didn’t embody Bluetooth on a strange HomePod. Again, they were bringing a orator to an partner fight and if they had any possibility of winning it was with audio quality. If all reviewers did was post unconstrained head-to-heads with Bluetooth as a zodiacally crappy conduit, a lot of HomePods audio advantage could have gotten dense away.
But it’s year dual now. Everyone who cares about how good HomePod sounds knows about how good HomePod sounds, so it’s time to let harmony turn key.
Just like Apple Music on Android and Alexa, putting BlueTooth on HomePod creates it some-more profitable to multi-platform, multi-device families. And augmenting value is how Apple customarily justifies aloft prices.
(I’d supplement something about line in here yet it’s flattering transparent Apple and roughly everybody else is bustling burying 3.5mm jacks, so… yeah.)
I used to use a imagination Dolby 7.1 system, yet a impulse it fell out of warranty, it began restraint all calm with fake HDCP flags. Total loss. So, vowing to never tumble chase to that again, we went all in on a SONOS home museum system. Just one tiny visual wire from TV to a soundbar, filigree to a underling and approximate Play:3, and all my TV filled my room.
I hoped HomePod could reinstate even a need for that one visual wire and those 4 apart speakers, yield room-filling, computationally mapped sound all on a own. Or, improved still, dual HomePods as a matched span to unequivocally fill adult a room.
And it does… kinda. For brief durations of time. Over AirPlay 2. But that’s it. That’s all. There’s still no approach to span them with Apple TV like we would AirPods with iPhone and, once paired, have them go into TV priority mode and customarily work for all your home museum needs.
Devoting an whole HomePod to an Apple TV might not be a many stretchable use of a capabilities, yet it’s what some shred of users wants to do and it would be good if Apple figured out a approach to let HomePod and Apple TV make sorcery together.
At slightest unless and until Apple ships a full-on HomeBar museum complement secretly for television. we mean, it’s not like they’re investing billions of dollars in strange programming right now or anything.
Hey, a tech nerd can dream!
SiriKit for Media
SiriKit is Apple’s focus programming interface (API) for Siri. With it, third-party developers can confederate their apps and services so that Siri can control them. It’s not an unconstrained list of elementary skills and it’s not tradition commands an automation like Siri Shortcuts, yet a strong infrastructure that allows for variances.
At launch, HomeKit upheld SiriKit extensions for messaging apps (like WhatsApp), to do apps (like OmniFocus or Things), and note-taking apps. But that’s it.
Ride-sharing, payments, reservations, exist on iOS yet haven’t shown adult nonetheless on HomePod, not over Shortcuts. And they should. But audio extensions is what HomePod is unequivocally screaming for.
- Music apps, like Spotify and Google Music.
- Podcast apps, like Overcast and Pocket Casts.
- Spoken word apps, like Audible and Anchor.
Apple could always partner with services to move afterwards onto HomePod, yet SiriKit would open it adult to all services, new and small.
Right now, there’s a opposite Siri for opposite devices, all with opposite capabilities. Siri on Apple TV is distant some-more singular than iPhone or iPad, yet has low media believe and can even hoop multi-language queries where, for example, a French orator asks for a film with an English title. Siri on Mac can correlate with files and insist formula but, frustratingly, can’t control HomeKit.
Not being means to count on Siri to do something regardless of that device we ask to do it’s bad for users. It creates doubt that chills usage.
Having all those Siri-capable inclination could and should be a outrageous strength.
Apple inclination can already fast promulgate with any other to establish that one should respond to “Hey Siri.” They keep in hit regulating their possess short-range network and “vote” on that device they consider you’re addressing.
Also, Apple Watch can already offer to send answers it’s not means of displaying on a possess to your iPhone around Continuity.
What I’d unequivocally adore is for all inclination to be means to harnessing a capabilities of any other Siri device within range. In other words, surfacing a network as a filigree partner voting not customarily on that device should answer, yet that one is best means of answering. In cases where those legitimately differ, Siri could even offer to send formula to another device.
For example, HomePod: “I’ve found a list of cinema personification nearby. Would we like me to review them to we or send them to your iPhone for you?” Then we could select to crop and even take a formula with you.
(Especially because, in a one world, all inclination would have some approach to bookmark or pin Siri formula a approach Mac can.)
Some would disagree Siri needs to live in a cloud and provide all inclination as end-points yet that has remoteness and confidence implications over a range of this video. Others, myself included, would disagree that full on SiriOS would solve all of this and more. For now, if Siri is going to live on inclination it needs to insist opposite those devices.
Speaking of mesh, it’d be good if all Apple’s plugged-in inclination worked for networking as well. HomePod, Apple TV, even a Mac and, hey, who knows, a next-generation router.
It would discharge a need for a apart filigree networking complement and let people have Apple, a privacy-first company, doing all a information withdrawal that network as well. Something some might not trust other, reduction privacy-centric companies to do.
4. Voice ID
Apple has been operative on Voice ID for Siri for a prolonged time. It shipped a initial chronicle with iPhone 6s and “Hey, Siri” and it’s gotten improved over time. HomePod, during slightest during launch, doesn’t seem to have any Voice ID capability, and that severely boundary what it can do in a multi-user sourroundings like a home.
Perhaps it’s iOS’ ancestral miss of mixed comment support — customarily Apple TV offers even simple mixed comment doing — or maybe it simply isn’t stone plain yet. Either way, it seems inevitable. The ability to use biometric voice prints to substantiate opposite family members opens adult HomePod to being truly useful for everybody in a family.
That way, one roommate doesn’t get another roommates messages, or relatives don’t get a favorites playlist filled with Raffi instead of Reggae.
(Though particular users will still have to confirm if a essence of their messages, for example, from something as harmless as formulation a warn celebration to as compromising as a relationship or bootleg activities should unequivocally be review out shrill during all, ever.)
Importantly, it would let Siri start to build adult particular profiles for us. Right now, AI assistants aren’t that intelligent. They can learn to improved know what we’re observant when we ask for a Lyft yet they don’t unequivocally learn that we cite Lyft to Uber. Likewise, they can start a connected showering for us when asked, yet they don’t unequivocally learn that we always wish a showering started when we finish a workout. Deep context and prevision are subsequent steps, not stream tech.
But, to get there, Siri will need to safely, securely, secretly start training and bargain us far, distant better. Siri Sync, that now creates certain a training we do on one device carries over to a next, is a good horizon to build on. And Apple’s process of tokenizing identify, encrypting traffic, and not withdrawal information around for blurb use, is reassuring.
But there’s still a ton of work that needs to be done.
Amazon, Google, and even Facebook — yeah, Facebook — offer versions of their home assistants with screens. The thought is that we place them in your kitchens to assistance we cook, your family bedrooms to assistance we communicate, and your bedrooms to… gross, no, do not put screens from those companies in your bedrooms. Not yet draping a shirt or dozen over them or something.
Apple doesn’t have a HomePod with a shade but, if we hang an iPhone or iPad on a stand, they radically turn HomePods with screens. They don’t have a mic or orator arrays, of course, yet iPad generally can work as a HomeKit heart and all of them can hoop voice commands.
But it’d be kind of cold if Apple offering a wharf secretly designed to make iPhones or iPads some-more like HomePods. A wharf with mic and orator arrays. Not an iPod Hi-Fi, yet that’d be kinda retro awesome, yet something we block into in a kitchen or family room, that can pivot to follow we around as we prepare or purify to uncover we that recipe or keep we in that FaceTime frame, yet that goes passed a notation we bravery your device off of it — fully charged, of course — so we can positively trust it not to be examination we when we don’t wish to be watched.
There were 10 years of blackberry, palm, Nokia, and Windows Mobile before iPhone. A decade of Tablet PC before iPad. Apple expelled Watch many earlier, after customarily a few years of Pebble, yet with HomePod, if anything, it customarily seemed like there was both reduction time to marketplace and a approach bigger possibility Apple was late to a game.