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Posts tagged with "homepod"

Hands-On with the HomePod’s New Intercom Feature, Alarms, and Siri Tricks

With yesterday’s releases of iOS 14.1 and HomePod Software Version 14.1, which could really use a catchier name, Apple has introduced several new features announced last week at its iPhone 12 and HomePod mini event. Most readers are probably already familiar with what’s in the updates based on our iPhone 12 and HomePod mini overviews, so I thought I’d update my HomePods and devices to provide some hands-on thoughts about the changes.

Most of the new features are related to the HomePod. Although proximity-based features are exclusive to the HomePod mini, which features Apple’s U1 Ultra Wideband chip, some of the other functionality revealed last week is available on all HomePod models.

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Apple’s October 2020 Event: All The Little Things

Apple events are always full of little details that don’t make it into the main presentation. Some tidbits are buried in footnotes and others in release notes. Yesterday’s event was no exception, so after having a chance to dig in a little deeper, here is an assortment of details about what Apple announced.

HomePod

iPhone 12

Accessories

  • Apple has reduced the price of EarPods $10 to $19, and the 20W charger that replaces the 18W charger is $19, down from the $29 charged for the 18W version.
  • Belkin has announced a 3-in-1 MagSafe charging stand and a MagSafe car mount.

You can follow all of our October event coverage through ourOctober 2020 event hub, or subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.


Apple’s HomePod mini: The MacStories Overview

I have two HomePods: one in our living room and another in my office. They sound terrific, and I’ve grown to depend on the convenience of controlling HomeKit devices, adding groceries to my shopping list, checking the weather, and being able to ask Siri to pick something to play when I can’t think of anything myself. My office isn’t very big, though, and when rumors of a smaller HomePod surfaced, I was curious to see what Apple was planning.

Today, those plans were revealed during the event the company held remotely from the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino. Apple introduced the HomePod mini, a diminutive $99 smart speaker that’s just 3.3 inches tall and 3.8 inches wide. In comparison, the original HomePod is 6.8 inches tall and 5.6 inches wide. At just .76 pounds, the mini is also considerably lighter than the 5.5-pound original HomePod.

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Apple Audio: AirPods Receive Automatic Switching, Spatial Audio on AirPods Pro, and HomePod Integrates with Third-Party Music Services

Apple’s audio products – especially AirPods and AirPods Pro – are becoming major players in the company’s product ecosystem, and as a result it’s no surprise that new features for these products were announced at WWDC. Easily my favorite audio announcement was automatic switching between devices, but there’s a lot of other great audio news too: spatial audio on AirPods Pro, third-party music services on HomePod, audio sharing on tvOS, headphone accommodations, and more.

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Automating HomePod Volume Levels

Great idea by Matthew Cassinelli: using the new HomePod and AirPlay 2 actions for home automation in iOS 13.2, it is possible to automate a HomePod’s volume level (including its Siri responses) throughout the day.

But one of the nagging problems with HomePod is the way Siri, regardless of the current time of day, will respond loudly at whatever volume you’ve previously set.

Whether it’s the middle of the night or super early in the morning, it’s all too common to ask Siri something and the answer shouted backed at you, only because you listened to music loudly sometime yesterday. Hopefully nobody wakes up, you curse at how dumb your supposedly “smart” speaker can be, and frantically try to turn it down.

Thankfully, iOS 13.2 provides a route to a solution by adding HomePods and AppleTV to scenes and automations – the HomePod didn’t fix this on its own, but, with a Home Automation, you can make it “smart” enough yourself.

As I explained when iOS 13.2 came out, you can put together these automations by using the ‘Adjust Audio Only’ option after selecting a HomePod or compatible AirPlay 2 speaker in the Home app. I just set this up for my three HomePods and Sonos One, and, sure enough, at 11:20 PM, volume was set to 15% on all my speakers (it should be raised back up to 50% tomorrow at noon).

In theory, I would like to turn this automation into a shortcut and add a Pushcut notification to confirm the volume change (and optionally shuffle a playlist by choosing a HomeKit scene from the notification’s actions). There’s a bug that prevents me from doing this in the latest iOS 13.3 beta, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future.

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Apple Updates the HomePod with Multi-Voice Support and Ambient Sounds, Plus iPhone Handoff, Shortcuts, and HomeKit Functionality

On Monday, Apple released audioOS 13.2 for the HomePod and before the end of the day US-time pulled it when users started reporting that it was bricking their HomePods. In addition to bricking some HomePods, other users, myself included, had trouble setting up multi-voice support. I also heard from others who had trouble getting the update to install in the first instance. Today, shortly after Apple’s earnings call concluded, the company released audioOS 13.2.1, which includes the same features and presumably fixes the issues users experienced.

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Hands-On with HomePod’s New Music Features for HomeKit, Shortcuts, and Handoff

New HomePod features.

New HomePod features.

Following the announcement of AirPods Pro earlier today, Apple also released iOS, iPadOS, audioOS, and tvOS 13.2. Among various features (which we’ve detailed in a separate story here), one of the key improvements in this suite of software updates is extended flexibility of the HomePod’s music playback abilities.

In fact, by updating to the latest version of Apple’s software, you’ll gain a variety of new audio-related functionalities for HomePod, ranging from the ability to wave an iPhone atop the speaker to hand off audio to brand new integrations with the Shortcuts app as well as HomeKit scenes and automations. In this post, I’m going to go over all the different ways you can control audio playback on Apple’s Siri-integrated speaker, explain new shortcuts that can be built with these features, and share some first impressions based on my initial tests with today’s changes. We’re going to cover HomePod’s other new functionalities such as multi-user support and ambient sounds later this week. Let’s dive in.

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Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.2 with New Features, AirPods Pro Support, and HomePod Updates

Apple has released iOS and iPadOS 13.2, which is necessary to operate the AirPods Pro that will be in stores on Wednesday, October 30th, and adds several new features to iPhones, iPads, and the HomePod.

One of the most-anticipated features is Deep Fusion, which harnesses the power of the A13 Bionic Neural Engine to generate photos that combine elements of several exposures to bring out additional detail and textures in low light settings. The feature works with the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, comparing multiple shots pixel-by-pixel to assemble a composite image that is better than any single image captured by the technology. To see examples of Deep Fusion in action, check out Federico’s recent photo tour of Rome. The Camera app has also gained the ability to change the video resolution from the app’s UI for the first time on the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max.

As has become something of a tradition each fall, Apple has paired today’s update with new emoji. Revealed in the iOS and iPadOS 13.2 beta, there are over 70 new emoji including people in wheelchairs, skin tone support for people holding hands, a sloth, a waffle, a yawning face, a skunk, garlic, a yo-yo, and a flamingo.

In addition to support for the new AirPods Pro, iOS and iPadOS 13.2 include the Announce Messages feature which enables Siri to announce new messages via a user’s AirPods as they arrive. HomeKit gains support for Secure Video and HomeKit routers too. Secure Video is designed for secure storage of video taken by home security cameras and includes support for detection of people, animals, and vehicles. Apps can also be deleted from an iPhone or iPad’s Home screen via a quick action for the first time.

Apple’s Shortcuts app received a few updates as part of iOS and iPadOS 13.2 too. The app now works with the Apple Watch, which will provide users with greater flexibility to run their shortcuts. Also, there is a new Feed URL property for podcasts and a Handoff playback action, which I can’t wait to try. Undo allows for reverting parameter changes too.

Apple has also added new Siri privacy settings that allow users to decide whether to allow Apple to store Siri and dictation audio. Siri and dictation histories can be deleted from Settings too.

Originally announced at WWDC, Apple has updated the HomePod with several new features. With multi-voice support, the HomePod can recognize the voices of different members of a household, allowing them to each receive an individualized experience. Another big HomePod feature is Handoff support for music, podcasts, and phone calls, which allows you to tap your iPhone on your HomePod to continue the audio on it instead of your phone. HomeKit scenes add support for music, and the HomePod can now play Ambient Sounds, which include things like the sound of a rain storm. Finally, users can set sleep timers for music or Ambient Sounds with their HomePods too.


New HomePod Details Emerge

The HomePod was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s Apple keynote. However, the company has quietly updated the HomePod’s product page with new details, as spotted by Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac.

According to Mayo,

Firstly, the radio stations feature is launching on HomePod on September 30. However, the previously-announced multi-user support and the music handoff features are not coming in September. Apple simply says ‘later this fall’. They also teased a new white noise mode that they hadn’t talked about before…

The new Ambient Sounds feature will allow users to play sounds including “ocean waves, forest birds, rainstorms, and more.”

Although Apple doesn’t say so, the September 30th timing for radio station support suggests that the feature is dependent on the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.1, which is due for release that same day. The company’s OS release schedule is far more complicated this year than in the recent past. For those interested in all the product launch and OS update release dates, we’ve collected a complete list of all dates on MacStories.

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