Apple and Earth Day

No company can focus on everything. It is not feasible, nor is it practical. Instead, all companies must decide what is the most important to them. One area where Apple chooses to put some focus is on the environment. They do this in a couple of different ways. The first is by using using renewable energy for all of its operations. These operations include corporate offices, retail spaces, datacenter and co-location facilities across the world.

Renewable Energy

One way that Apple demonstrate using renewable energy is by having installed solar panels all over the roof of their Apple Park campus. Along with their properties being renewable, Apple also tends to work with suppliers who also utilize renewable energy. An additional nine suppliers have agreed to use 100% renewable energy for their operations. With Apple being the most valued company they have shown that being eco-friendly is not only good for nature but can also help with its bottom-line.

Daisy

There is another way that Apple is helping the environment, that is by recycling. Apple uses sustainably harvested materials for packaging, and other various aspects of their operations. Something that goes hand-in-hand with this is that Apple offers recycling of products. In March of 2016, Apple unveiled their iPhone recycling robot, Liam. Now Apple has unveiled its second-generation iPhone recycling robot, Daisy.

Daisy can recycle up to 200 devices per hour. When Daisy does recycle a phone, it can retrieve some materials that can be recycled. Amongst these are:

  • 1900 kilograms of Aluminum
  • 710 Kilograms of Copper
  • 0.97 kilograms of of Gold
  • 0.10 kilograms of Palladium
  • 7.5 kilograms of Silver
  • 42 kilograms of Tin
  • 11 kilograms of Rare Earth metals
  • 770 kilograms of Cobalt
  • 93 kilograms of Tungsten
  • 1.8 kilograms of Tantalum

The statistics above are for every 100,000 devices, or approximately every 3 weeks if Daisy is running at full capacity. Every kilogram of materials that Apple is able to recover means that the same amount does not need to be mined out of the earth. Apple is looking out for the environment, but you can as well.

Give Back

If you have an older device that is no longer needed you can recycle it and Apple might even give you some money for it.. This could a laptop, iPhone, or iPod. You can see how much your device is worth by going to Apple’s Give Back page.

Apple Watch

Many companies are always on the lookout for ways to have multiple products converge to provide some incentive for users. One are where Apple uses Earth Day is with Apple Watch users. Apple does not incentivize Apple Watch users to recycle, instead they provide Apple Watch users with a badge if they complete a 30-minute workout on Earth Day. Apple did the same thing for Earth Day 2017 with the same reward. If you complete the challenge you will get not only a badge, but some iMessage stickers that can be used to adorn your conversations.

Anything you can do to help conserve the limited resources on the planet is beneficial for everyone, whether they appreciate or realize that it is beneficial for them.

Sources: Apple Newsroom (Renewable), Apple Newsroom (Recycling).

Apple’s PRODUCT(RED) iPhone

Apple is a company that tries to do some good along with selling their products. One of the most prominent causes that Apple likes to donate to is (PRODUCT)RED. There have been a number of products throughout the years that Apple has made to sponsor PRODUCT(RED). Some of these have included iPods, iPhone cases, headphones, even a 2013 Mac Pro, and even more.

Today Apple announced a new item that is available in PRODUCT(RED), the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. When Apple has done PRODUCT(RED) iPod Touches and iPhones in the past, they have been Red backs with White faces. The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have changed this. The backs are still Red, but the front is now black.

The change o the front actually does two things. The first is it responds to the request from users to have a black front with the red back. The second is that it will help differentiate between an iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 that are in PRODUCT(RED).

Personally, I like the look of the PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Even though It would be great to see a Product Red iPhone X.

Even though there is not a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone X, there is a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone X Leather Folio.

The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X Leather Folio will be available for order starting tomorrow, April 10th, 2018, with products available in stores on April 13th, 2018.

If you do not want an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X Leather Folio, there are more options available PRODUCT(RED) on Apple’s PRODUCT(RED) page.

Source: apple.com

Apple Education Event: Additional Thoughts on Classroom

I listen to a lot of podcasts and many of them are technology-focused, which likely would come as o surprise to nobody. One of the announcement that Apple made at their Let’s Take a Field Trip event was that their iOS app named Classroom was coming to the Mac.

The Classroom app allows teachers to perform a variety of tasks. Some of these include:

Start, focus, or pause student work

  • Launch any app, website, or book on student devices with a tap
  • Lock devices into a single app to help students focus
  • Lock screens to pause work or refocus your class
  • Mute audio on student devices

See what your students see with Screen View

  • See an overview of all student screens at once
  • Focus on a single student screen
  • Students are informed when their screens are being viewed

What I heard many times was that the Classroom app was being ported to the Mac because the teachers are more accustom to the Mac. I understand the idea behind it. Meaning that teachers are not used to iPads. I think that for a percentage of teachers this is true, however I do not think this is the primary driving factor. Let us start with a scenario.

Imagine that you are a teacher with 25 kids. You are doing a lesson that involves showing the students the planets and what you are showing them is a video that is within the app. Along with this you would like to make sure that the students are paying attention. Since the iPad that you, as the teacher, are using is showing the app, so you cannot monitor what the students are doing.

Now, with the Classroom app on the nearby Mac, you can now keep an eye on what the students are doing while the video is playing, and if necessary put them back on task.

We are definitely in a transition time, but the immediate thought that teachers are “olds” and need to use a Mac to get stuff done. While that may be the case for a number of teachers, the ability to use the Classroom app on the Mac, in addition to an iPad, will allow teachers to monitor the students even if the iPad is currently in use.

Space Gray Peripherals Available

There is a set of products that Apple has made available for purchase that have not been previously available. When the iMac Pro was unveiled people noticed that the peripherals that come with the iMac Pro match the iMac Pro, meaning that they will be Space Gray. At the time it was indicated that the Space Gray accessories would be exclusively available with the purchase of an iMac Pro. This is no longer the case.

The exact accessories that are available are the Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse, and Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. These accessories are the same as their aluminum counterparts, however they do cost a bit more; $20 more to be exact. This means that the Space Gray Magic Trackpad costs $149, the Space Gray Magic Mouse is $99, and the Space Gray Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad costs $149.

The Space Gray accessories are available for ordering today and ship this week. It would be nice to have a regular Magic Keyboard in Space Gray, but Apple does not make one available for the iMac Pro, so it does not seem like Apple would make a Space Gray accessory available that is not also available for the iMac Pro. Maybe Apple will make a wireless Space Gray Magic Keyboard without the Numeric Keypad at some point in the future, but it may also not come at all.

Apple’s Let’s Take a Field Trip Event

Apple has a part of the education market from the early days of Apple. All the way back to 1978 to be exact. Today Apple has reinforced their education commitment. Apple held their education event at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois. The event is focused on education and they have delivered in a big way.

Being in Chicago, Apple provided a couple of tidbits about Chicago Public Schools. The Chicago Public Schools is working with Apple to teach more than 370,000 students how to code. Alongside this, the venue for the event, Lane Tech College Prep, has had more PhD graduate from there than any other school in the country.

Many questions why Apple would hold an education event at the end of the school year, but this is the perfect time because now is when schools start buying for next year. So this is the perfect time to hold an event.

Tools for Educators

Apple has released some new tools specifically for the K-12 market. These include Shared iPad Support, Classroom app, and Schoolwork.

Shared iPads

Shared iPads is not a new feature, it has actually been around for a couple of years, but it is worth reiterating because it can be an invaluable feature for classrooms so that every student does not necessarily need their own dedicated iPad but can indeed share amongst many students. Students can login to any iPad and get all of their data within minutes.

Classroom

The “Classroom” app was introduced in 2017 with iOS 11. Classroom allows teachers to keep an eye on what their students are doing. If a student is not following along, they can get the student back on track by bringing up the necessary application or website. Similarly, if a student needs some assistance, the teacher can help the student and guide them to where they need to be. There is a new feature for Classroom, Classroom is coming to the Mac.

All of the same features that are available on iPad will be available on the Classroom app for Mac. This will be available as a beta in June.

Schoolwork

Schoolwork is a free web-based app, that allows you to give handouts, provide progress, These handouts can include web links, PDFS, and other documents. Additionally, educators can not only send students a link to an application, but they can now send a link to a specific activity within an application. The ability to send a specific activity will help teachers be able to direct students to exactly what the teacher hopes to be able to assign.

Assigning is not enough though, Schoolwork will also allow teachers to check on the progress of students. At a single glance a teacher can get a quick overview of how all of the students are doing. If they tap on any student, they can then get a detailed view of how the student performed on that activity.

With students using technology for an ever increasing percentage of their work, an area for concern is how to keep that information safe. As one can guess, Apple takes privacy very seriously, and the privacy of student data even more seriously than most. Teachers are the only ones that can see how a student is performing. Apple cannot, nor can anyone else.

These activities are not just going to magically appear, they will require developer support and developers have a new framework to help create these activities, it is

Schoolwork will be available in June.

Apple Teacher

Apple has also introduced a new resource specifically aimed at teachers themselves, it is called Apple Teacher. Apple Teacher is a free web-based tool to help teachers build their skills as a teacher.

Apple Teacher Learning Center is where you can get learn to get the most out of Apple’s technologies as well as providing new ideas to bring creative ideas to the classroom. Apple Teacher is available at https://appleteacher.apple.com/

Everyone Can

One of Apple’s core beliefs is that having everyone learn to code is an important part of today’s education. This is not only to provide a path for future developers, but also because it can teach other skills like critical thinking and problem solving. This is a great idea for those interested in coding.

Everyone can code has guides for teachers, including rubrics, keynote presentations and more. Everyone can code is not new, but it is a resource that is available on apple.com. Apple is also working with ConnectEd and 40 STEM organizations, including App Camp for Girls.

Create

Apple has ideas that go beyond coding. Apple is building a new curriculum to augment the coding, this one is based around any subject. This is focused on four skills areas. These areas are: music, video, photography, and drawing. There will be student guide as well as teacher guides available. It is available for <a href=”https://www.apple.com/education/everyone-can-create/’>preview now. With more coming in the summer to be prepared for the fall semester.

While many of these resources are not new, they are resources that many, including myself, may not have known about. It is imperative to allow teachers help students learn and develop new skills that will benefit them beyond the classroom.

iCloud Storage

Every Apple ID gets 5GB of storage for free, this includes education accounts. This 5GB limit is quite restrictive for everyone, but is particularly hard on schools particularly if students want to be able to store a video. Apple has increased the storage limit on all accounts that managed through the Apple School Manager software. Instead of only having 5GB of storage, each account gets 200GB of storage.

iPad

Besides the new tools that Apple has provided for educators they have released the sixth generation 9.7-inch iPad. The 9.7-inch iPad has some new internals, specifically the A10 processor, and Apple Pencil support. The support for Apple Pencil is the same as the iPad Pro.

The A10 Processor allows users to use Augmented reality applications, just like the other iOS devices. The price remains the same at $329 and is available to order now and arrives later this week.

iWork

Apple has updated their iWork suite to support the Apple Pencil.

There is an additional set of features for Pages. A new feature called “Smart Annotations”. Instead of needing to manually print out and mark up a student’s homework, a teacher can now add note for the student to adjust. These notes are not just standard annotations, but will remain with the text.

This is not just for the device versions of iWork, but these features also work on the iCloud.com version of the iWork applications as well.

Digital Book Creation

One of the strategies for Apple is the creation of digital books. Apple has built-in some new features to Pages that will help with the creation. These features include:

  • Image Galleries
  • The ability to have video with sound, and can even record directly on an iPad
  • Drawing support built-in

Books created with Pages meet ePub standards for books. While some of these features are similar to Apple’s iBooks Author application, it does not negate the interactivity and features of an iBooks Author.

Even though they are not the same, the ability to create ebooks directly on the iPad is a huge benefit, not just for writers, but also for educators and students to be able to create books that they want.

Final Thoughts

I think Apple’s focus on education is an important one, not only because education is a huge part of the overall market, but because it is the foundation that will help students of all ages. This is valuable because they will be the ones who help move society forward, they are the ones who will be the next astronauts, teachers, and scientists. Without education, and in particular teachers, we would not be able to move forward.

Providing the resources for teachers is what Apple is all about when it comes to education. Whether it is using the Classroom app, the Schoolwork app, and even the iPad with Pencil support will all allow the next generation to keep everything going and moving the world forward.

Apple Proposes Accessible Emoji

I do not post about everything Apple does, mostly just the big stories. However, this story is one that embodies many things that Apple is passionate about. According to the proposal:

“Apple is requesting the addition of emoji to better represent individuals with disabilities. Currently, emoji provide a wide range of options, but may not represent the experiences of those with disabilities. Diversifying the options available helps fill a significant gap and provides a more inclusive experience for all.”

Apple has proposed some new emoji that depicts disabled users. One of the focal points for everything that Apple does is accessibility. For a long time now, Apple has made sure that everything they do is accessible for all users. These are proposed for Unicode 12.0, which will likely be approved in the Fall of 2018 and could be seen in the Spring of 2019, or even the fall of 2019. It is great to see Apple proposing emoji for those with disabilities.

Source: Emojipedia via SixColors.

Apple Watch’s Spring 2018 Watch Band Collection

Today Apple has announced new band colors for their Apple Watch. Some of the new colors include:

  • Sport Band in Denim Blue, Lemonade and Red Raspberry
  • Woven Nylon in Black Stripe, Blue Stripe, Gray Stripe and Pink Stripe
  • Sport Loop in Flash Light, Hot Pink, Marine Green and Tahoe Blue
  • Classic Buckle in Spring Yellow, Electric Blue and Soft Pink

One of the primary, if not the primary, focus for the Apple Watch is health. Apple has partnered with Nike to provide some sport bands. There are some new colors for the Nike+ Sport bands as well.

  • Nike Sport in Barely Rose/Pearl Pink, Black/White and Cargo Khaki/Black
  • Nike Sport Loop in Black/Pure Platinum, Bright Crimson/Black, Cargo Khaki, Midnight Fog and Pearl Pink

There is another change with the Nike Sport Loop watch bands, they will now be sold separately, which was not the case previously. Smart Watches are not just functional pieces, but they can also be fashionable. One way that Apple does this is by partnering with Hermes. There are some new Hermes bands too. The Single Tour Rallye and Double Tour bands now display contrasting paint details:

  • 38mm Double Tour in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
  • 38mm Double Tour in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
  • 42mm Single Tour Rallye in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
  • 42mm Single Tour Rallye in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop

All of these bands will be available later this month, which means likely next week. Many of these will be available on Apple.com.

Source: Apple

Apple Education Event Announced

Apple has invited some journalists to an event that they are holding on March 27th at 10:00 am. This event is not being held at Apple Park nor at 1 Infinite Loop. Instead, this event is being held at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois. This is the first event that Apple has held for the press in Chicago.

This is not the first press event that Apple has held outside of California. In January of 2012, Apple held an education event in New York City. The invite states “Join us to hear creative new ideas for teachers and students.”

It is nice to have Apple hold an event close to where I live, it is just too bad that I did not get invited (nor did I really every expect to be invited, but it would have been nice.)

I will try to follow what is announced at the event and will let everybody know what Apple says.

Apple Announces WWDC 2018

Today Apple has announced the dates for its annual World Wide Developer Conference. The dates for WWDC 2018 are from June 4th through June 8th. Just like last year, the conference will be in San Jose, California.

Similar to the last few years, Apple is offering developers an opportunity to register for a raffle for the tickets.

“The opportunity to buy tickets to WWDC18 is offered by random selection. Registration is open until Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. PDT.*”. If you do register for the raffle, and you are able to buy a ticket, it will cost you $1599.

It will be exciting to see what Apple has in store for the next versions of their operating systems. I will post a prediction post, closer to June 4th.

HomePod Review: AirPlay, Apple TV, and Additional Thoughts

This is part two of my HomePod Review. You can read the first part that covers the Sound, Siri, and Songs.

AirPlay and Bluetooth

The HomePod does not have any physical input mechanism. This means no line-in jack, and it cannot connect via USB. The only way to get audio to the HomePod is through AirPlay, Apple’s propriety protocol. Despite AirPlay being propriety, Apple does make it available for third-party companies to use for connecting to AirPlay-enabled devices.

The HomePod does have a Bluetooth 5.0 chipset inside it, but it cannot be used as a Bluetooth speaker. The Bluetooth is only used for the initial setup and communication between iOS devices for when the trigger phrase “Hey Siri” is used. It would be a nice addition if the HomePod could just be used as a Bluetooth speaker for non-AirPlay devices, but I do not foresee this as being a feature that Apple will include at any point. If there was no AirPlay, then it would be a no-brainer, but in a world with AirPlay it is not likely to occur because this provides an advantage for Apple allows them to control the ecosystem.

HomePod and Apple TV

One of the functions of the HomePod is to act as an AirPlay destination. One possible AirPlay source is the Apple TV. Most people, when they use their Apple TV, use the speakers on their TV or if their TV is capable, a sound bar.

There are those that do use an even more involved setup, like a receiver, and surround sound speaker system. Even with this setup being an option for many, it can be complicated to setup and maintain for some. Setting the HomePod as the audio output from an Apple TV is simple.

  1. Wake up the Apple TV.
  2. Begin playing some media.
  3. Swipe down on the Siri Remote Trackpad.
  4. Select the HomePod

 

That is all it takes to connect an Apple TV to a HomePod. It does not take many steps and it is possible for anyone to be able to connect an Apple TV to a HomePod. There is an alternative method. You can perform the following:

  1. Wake the Apple TV.
  2. Navigate to Settings.
  3. Scroll down to “Video and Audio”.
  4. Click on “Video and Audio”.
  5. Scroll down to audio output.
  6. Click on “Audio Output”.
  7. Select the HomePod you want to use an an output.

This second method allows you to set the HomePod as the audio source before you begin playing audio. You can also select the output while playing music as well. This can be done by selecting the device name in the upper left, clicking, and you will get a list of all of the AirPlay destinations, including the HomePod.

HomePod and Apple TV Issues

I did notice one thing that seems to be a bit strange and does not seem right, but I do not know if there is a fix for it. Whenever I set the HomePod as the AirPlay destination for my Apple TV, I always have to turn the volume way up on the HomePod in order to be able to hear anything. This really is not a big problem, but it does seem a bit odd. This only occurs when playing video and if the HomePod is set as the output for the Apple TV. Now, if I switched the HomePod to play music, even from the Apple TV, the sound would be super loud. Just like commercials used to get on television before rules were changed so the commercials could not be louder. I know why this occurs, it is because the HomePod is playing the music natively from the HomePod and is not getting the audio from another source. The whole situation just seems strange, considering that the HomePod is receiving audio and can intuit the source, it should be able to accommodate for that and have the audio be louder.

It could be that this is just due to the current limitations of AirPlay and may be changing when AirPlay 2 arrives. In particular, because AirPlay 2 will buffer audio as fast as you can provide it, so there may be some adjustments possible there. It is also possible that this may be an enhancement that may be coming to a future, and yet unknown, version of AirPlay.

Features to Come

When Apple announced the HomePod at WWDC 2017, they indicated that multiple HomePods could be used within a single room to make the sound even better. This would be available through a protocol called, AirPlay 2. AirPlay 2 has some significant benefits over AirPlay. The biggest of the benefits is “faster than real time” audio transmission. When AirPlay 2 is available on the HomePod, this means that you will be able to use AirPlay to send long form audio to the HomePod, and it will continue to play even if the original source is no longer in range.

A second feature that is available with AirPlay 2 is the ability to use multiple HomePods as a stereo pair. This would allow even better sound because the two HomePods can work in unison to produce the best sound for the room.

Also with AirPlay 2, you can control multiple HomePods from the same device and play different audio on each, or play the same audio on all of the speakers simultaneously. Again, because the HomePods would be communicating and the audio could be synchronized across all of the HomePods.

AirPlay 2 is expected to be released later this year. I am sure that Apple had hoped to have it released when the HomePod shipped, but that was not the case. AirPlay 2 will be available through a firmware update on the HomePod, let us look at how to update the HomePod next.

Updating the HomePod

Even though there have not been any updates to the HomePod, when there is an update, it will be a straight-forward task. To see the current firmware version and check for updates, perform the following:

  1. Open the Home App.
  2. Tap the Arrow icon in the upper left corner.
  3. Scroll down to Speakers.
  4. Tap on Software Update.

Here you will have one option, “Install Updates Automatically”. By default, this option is enabled. You can turn it off, if desired. When you bring up this screen it will check for any HomePod update. If there is no update, the current version and build will be shown. As of this writing the latest firmware is 11.2.5 (15D59). This is the version that the HomePod shipped with. If there is an update, you will have an option to update the firmware.

The Physical Specs

When you look at speakers that generate good sound, it is entirely possible that the speaker would be quite large. If you happen to only look at photos of the HomePod it is possible that you might presume that the actual device is quite large. However, the HomePod is actually rather small. Specifically, it is 6.8 inches tall, and is only 5.6 inches around. Even with its diminutive size is shockingly heavy at 5.5 pounds.

When you remove the HomePod from its box, it is a lot heavier than you might think. Even though five and half pounds may not seem like much, and in reality it is not, it is a bit heavier than expected. This should not be an issue for most, since in most cases the HomePod will remain in a single place during its usage, but it is something to be cognizant of.

There is a single cable for the HomePod, that is the power cord. Unlike most other consumer devices, the cord on the HomePod is actually wrapped in a cloth. This is so the HomePod is more aesthetically pleasing and can be more easily hidden.

Feature Requests

Even with the HomePod having great sound, there is still one big feature that would be nice to have, which could be handled via software. That feature is the ability to tune the amount of bass. I love my Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones, and while Beats tend to be heavy on the bass, the amount of bass coming out of the HomePod is a bit much for some songs.

You can reduce some of the bass by using the “Sound Check” feature within the HomePod settings, but this feature only makes all of the songs have the same volume, as per this Apple Support article. This can help a bit, but having finer control over the bass would be nice. I do not think that having a full blown equalizer would be beneficial, since the HomePod is dynamically tuning itself based upon the room and the song. This means that any equalizer settings that you would manually set would likely ruin, and not enhance, the sound being generated.

Trigger Phrase

I completely understand and recognize the fact that Siri is a brand that Apple wants to keep consistent across all of its products. In doing so, if you say the trigger word, “Hey Siri” all of your iOS devices, as well as any HomePods will all hear you. Each of the devices will then have a “discussion” and one of the devices will be the one that responds to you. Which one responds is based upon a couple of different factors; how recently you used the device, and which ones are within range. Given the far-field voice recognition capabilities of the HomePod, it is likely to win more often.

While using the same trigger phrase created a consistent experience and makes it easier for those accustom to using Siri on their iOS devices, having all of your devices make sound when you say “Hey Siri”, can be bothersome. What I would like to see is the HomePod get its own trigger phrase, or at least an option for a different trigger phrase.

It could be something like “Hey HomePod”, or “Hey Speaker”, or “Hey Assistant”, or something similar. could even be based upon the current location of the HomePod. For instance, if your HomePod is in the living room, you could say something like “Hey Living Room, play this song.”

I understand that this could ultimately cause confusion for users and result in a non-optimal experience, it would provide an option for those users who decide to enable it to be able to target a specific device.

Even though I would like to see this, I honestly do not see Apple creating a distinct phrase for the HomePod, mostly because it would bifurcate the “Siri” platform. Even though it might do so, it would be better than having four different devices going off all at once when I want to ask the HomePod to do something.

Beta Request

Apple is constantly working on new features for the HomePod. It would be nice to have the HomePod be on the same version as iOS betas. The HomePod is a brand new product, so it is possible that Apple will allow the HomePod to be on beta versions. There is one potential problem with having a HomePod on a beta. It is the same issue with the Apple TV 4K.

There is no user accessible port, so if a beta installation were to fail, the only people who would be able to repair the device is Apple themselves. Apple has been pretty good with the updates, but the HomePod is the newest device and there could be some edge cases where things do not work as expected. It is entirely possible that this is already going to happen with the next version of iOS, but we are not at that point yet.

The Future of HomePod

Even though the HomePod has recently been released, there is no issue with thinking about its future. When Apple announced the HomePod back in June of 2017, they indicated that indicated that multi-speaker AirPlay would be released at the release of the HomePod.

With the HomePod having an A8 Processor, it is likely that the A8 will be the base for iOS for at least a couple more years. It is also possible that the HomePod will still be updated to the latest version of iOS even if iPhone 6/6 Plus/iPod Touch with A8 are no longer supported on the latest version of iOS.

I hope Apple is looking to make a smaller version of the HomePod, even if it does not fill a room with sound as the current HomePod does. A smaller HomePod would be great for places like kitchens, offices or other areas where sound is needed, but it does not necessarily need to be room filling, or places where the current HomePod is a bit too overpowering. The advantage to having a smart assistant in every room is one that could come in quite useful for many.

Closing Thoughts

Even though the HomePod does not have multiple speaker support, the HomePod is still a great speaker on its own. It is not the cheapest speaker on the market, but it also attempts to solve an issue that many other speakers do not; filling an entire room with sound and have it sound great in every part of the room. The HomePod accomplishes this with ease.

When I first got the HomePod I moved it from room to room, but it has now found its home in the master bedroom where I consume most of my media. This has had a couple of different consequences. The first is now that the HomePod creates great sound, I want to use it with everything. I already use it all the time with the Apple TV. I use the Apple TV to consume most of my media, so connecting it to the Apple TV is not an issue. This does result in not wanting to watch DVDs or Blu-rays, since my Xbox One, which is my Blu-ray/DVD player, does not connect to the HomePod. This has resulted in either converting my physical media, or buying a digital copy. I do not do this for all titles, but those I really want to watch I do.

The HomePod is capable of being more than just a speaker, it also includes Apple’s Smart assistant Siri. Siri can perform many of the same tasks for you as your iPhone or iPad. You can ask Siri the weather, current news, what song is playing, what movies are playing, or even control you HomeKit enabled devices, and much more. The reduction of the audio when Siri is active is a nice touch. If you have multiple iOS devices, they will communicate and decide who will handle your request, which can be rather annoying after a while. Another option for a trigger phrase would be nice, but it is not likely to occur.

There are many hidden options and features to the HomePod that are exposed through the Home app. These include who can access your HomePod, whether or not to require a password, and an option to setup the HomePod as a Home Hub.

If you are thinking of getting a HomePod, you have to be content with its current capabilities and not what it necessarily could do in the future. When the HomePod was announced, Apple indicated that it would be available by the end of 2017, but this did not occur. It is not due to the hardware, but instead the software. Currently, the HomePod does not support HomePods configured in stereo. The HomePod supports Apple Music, and any other audio that can be transmitted via Apple’s AirPlay protocol. If you are an Apple Music subscriber, and really want a good quality speaker for music, you cannot go wrong with the HomePod.