HomePod: Everything you need to know

HomePod: Everything you need to know

HomePod

Apple’s highly anticipated HomePod is available in just a few weeks. The Wi-Fi connected speaker offers up Siri voice control, HomeKit functionality, and boasts incredible, virtual surround sound. Wanna know more? We’ve got the details!

What’s new with HomePod?

January 23, 2018: HomePod arrives February 9, available to order this Friday

From Apple:

HomePod, the innovative wireless speaker from Apple, arrives in stores beginning Friday, February 9 and is available to order online this Friday, January 26 in the US, UK and Australia. HomePod will arrive in France and Germany this spring.

In what some are calling the great iOS 11 developer beta leak of 2017, we now have some details on how you’ll set up your HomePod when it arrives February 9, at least as the implementation stands right now. Setting up the HomePod will require some sort of connection to your iOS device, and the setup files, first spotted by iHelp BR, indicate that at least part of the process will be similar to the setup for AirPods and other W1-equipped headphones, though the HomePod itself doesn’t seem to have a W1 chip.

Text translated from Portuguese:

According to some images that we find in the internal files of the system, the pairing of the HomePod (codenamed B238) will be very similar to the AirPods wireless headphones. When you turn on the speaker for the first time, iOS will ask the user if they want to perform the setup with that iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. It will not be possible to set up a HomePod for Mac or Apple TV – although it is very likely that the device will work normally with them later.

Developer Guilherme Rambo has delved a little deeper into the files, providing video of the process, showing how the same method will apparently be used across the HomePod, whole home audio, and the Apple TV.

So what exactly is a ‘HomePod’?

HomePod

To generalize, it’s Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo line of speakers. It’s a dedicated speaker that supports Siri for access to Apple Music and HomeKit-enabled devices.

To be more specific, it’s one hell of a sound system packed into a 7-inch tall package. It has a specially engineered audio design to produce quality sound throughout your entire room, even if it’s set up in a corner.

Thanks to AirPlay 2 support you can connect it to HomePods all over the house and even control other AirPlay 2 supported speakers with it.

It’s built with Siri inside, so you can use it to play tunes through Apple Music, send messages, make phone calls, and control your HomeKit enabled devices.

Sounds cool. Tell me more?

Mobile Nations Editorial Director, Rene Ritchie, describes listening to HomePod as “Retina for your ears.” It’s packed with a six-microphone array, a seven-tweeter beam-forming array, a high-excursion woofer with a customized amplifier, a 20 mm diaphragm and an advanced algorithm that constantly analyzes the music being played and adjusts the levels to make sure that the sound output is exactly right.

It’s built with Apple’s A8 system-on-a-chip so that streaming music is as fast and smooth as possible. The microphones are directional so you can be heard over the music when you need Siri to do something. The specially designed speaker is equipped with spatial awareness to provide the best sound, no matter where the HomePod is set up.

Spatial awareness? What’s that?

To put it simply, HomePod is “aware” of your room’s layout and adjusts it’s audio output accordingly. If you’re HomePod is in the center of the room, you’ll hear everything from everywhere.

If it’s only a few feet from a wall on one side, it adjusts the sound and separates the music into direct (the speakers that face out), and ambient (the speakers that are close to the wall) beams. It’s pretty cool.

So I can use Siri with it?

HomePod

That’s right. HomePod runs on Siri, sort of the same way that Alexa runs on Echo. You can use it to play Apple Music, make and receive calls and messages, and control HomeKit-enabled devices.

Apple boasts Siri on HomePod’s abilities as a “musicologist.” When you play tunes from Apple Music, you can tell Siri what you do and don’t like and it will start to suggest songs based on your listening history. This data will also be transferred to your iPhone and iPad so your listening preferences are set across all of your devices.

If you’ve got HomeKit-compatible smart home gadgets, Siri in HomePod cancontrol them exactly the same way that Siri controls them from your iPhone and iPad. Even your scenes can be triggered through the HomePod. Lock down your home and turn off the lights before bed and tell Siri to set the “Good night” scene on HomePod.

You can use HomePod to send messages using your voice. If you receive a message, you can have Siri read it back to you through HomePod. If you want to call someone or answer a call from your HomePod, have Siri take care of the Handoff. It also works to set reminders, create lists, and more.

Siri is also a general know-it-all on HomePod. You can ask it questions about sports, weather, traffic conditions, and more. Use HomePod to set timers, translate languages, and tell you how many ounces are in a quart.

Can everyone in my family use Siri on HomePod?

That’s something we’re not totally clear on at this time. HomePod is Siri-supported, but there is no official information about whether anyone in the house can use it.

HomePod uses peer-to-peer Airplay to allow

According to Rene Ritchie, it’s a privacy thing.

Apple being Apple, the company has also built the HomePod to prioritize privacy: The device listens for “Hey Siri,” yes, but that command word is processed entirely locally on the device — no data is sent to Apple unless and until you speak the magic words. Even then, HomePod only sends anonymized data; it’s one of the benefits of a company that doesn’t make data harvesting its central business model.

Can I use it as a Bluetooth speaker?

HomePod

Sorry, no. HomePod is equipped with AirPlay 2 compatibility. The good news is that your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and any device with AirPlay support works perfectly with HomePod. The bad news is that you can’t connect it directly to your Bluetooth devices, like a T.V. set, game console, or Android device. Though HomePod does have Bluetooth 5.0, it’s not currently capable of streaming audio from Bluetooth devices.

Hopefully, Apple will add that functionality, and soon!

Will my iPhone work with it?

Probably. HomePod support goes back all the way to iPhone 5s, 5th-generation iPad, iPad mini 2, first-generation iPad Air, and all sizes of iPad Pro. It also supports the sixth-generation iPod Touch.

Your iOS device must be running on iOS 11.2.5 or later, so if you haven’t updated yet, you might as well get that going if you want a HomePod.

Is it wireless?

Though the HomePod is a svelte 7-inches tall, it’s way too powerful to use a portable battery. No. This bad boy needs direct power from an outlet.

What color does it come in?

HomePod

HomePod is covered in an attractive mesh fabric designed to look good and resonate well, acoustically (think about the mesh-covered front of a guitar amp). You can get it in white or space gray.

Sorry, no rose gold or (Product)Red. Though, it’s possible that we’ll see an exclusive version of the latter at some point in the future.

OK, I’m in. How much does it cost?

A single HomePod costs $349. If you’re hoping to outfit your entire house with a HomePod system, you can get a few of them and use AirPlay 2 to daisy chain them together. You can play them in stereo or play different audio from different speakers throughout the house.

When can I get one?

You can pre-order the HomePod on January 26. It’ll be available in-stores or delivered to your door on February 9.

Any more questions?

Do you have any more questions about HomePod? Let us know in the comments!

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HomePod: Everything you need to know

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