Monday Morning News

Apple’s HomePod is now available to order, with a release date of of the 9th of February. HomePod will cost $499 in Australia, and the home speaker will initially arrive with great sound, built-in Siri, and the ability to play millions of songs from Apple Music, with features such as being able to pair two HomePods together for real stereo and AirPlay 2 for enhanced multi-room capabilities coming later this year.

A lot of people are comparing HomePod to the much cheaper Google Home and Amazon Alexa assistants, probably because of HomePod’s inclusion of Siri as the smart home companion. But that’s not the whole story of HomePod, with John Gruber telling us about HomePod’s priorities, with audio quality being first and foremost. Very few people will be spending HomePod money just to get Siri.

When it comes to speaker quality and privacy, there’s no competition between HomePod and the other home speaker offerings. A comparison between the Google Home Max, Sonos One, and Amazon Echo from iMore says so, and there’s a lot to like about the quality of sound that comes from the HomePod. And in case you’re wondering what Apple music services the HomePod can natively access and play, iMore has an article covering that aspect of the device, too.

Last week’s release of iOS 11.2.5 to the general public is mostly for HomePod compatibility. Better external audio playback controls that let you play different things on different audio devices such as the local device and an Apple TV, for example, and a fix for a Messages crash when loading webpage previews — the “chaiOS” bug — also made the list of fixes and improvements this time around.

Apple has also given us a preview of iOS 11.3, which will bring new Animoji for iPhone X owners. A new and improved ARKit can now recognise vertical surfaces, lending itself to better AR experiences moving forward, and users will now be able to see and have some measure of control over their device’s battery health, with Apple including a toggle to turn off the controversial throttling feature. There’s also Business Chat, letting you talk to businesses directly from Messages, launching in beta and be limited to a few businesses to start off with.

The release notes for Logic Pro X 10.4 are incredibly detailed to the point I’m not sure what half the words mean, so I’m just going to echo Gruber on this one: it looks like the Logic team ticked off a whole bunch of features they had on their to-do list, because there’s a lot that’s been rolled into this release. Here’s hoping it’s well received by audio pros.

Also in Apple support documents this morning, there are some changes coming to macOS Server, and unfortunately, it’s mostly bad news. Apple’s support article says Server is changing to focus more on the management of computers, devices, and storage on your network, which means certain services will be deprecated and hidden on new installs of Server in the next few months. Deprecated services will be removed in a future version of macOS Server, the article states.

Brad Ellis talks us through the curves of the iPhone X, which hasn’t really seen that much discussion until now. Like all things, Apple’s incredible attention to detail extends to the precise curved corners of the notch, and while Apple could have chosen a much uglier way to present the notch, the way they came up with is hands-down the best.

Tidbits investigates the supposedly simple case of turning iCloud off and back on again on your Mac, which results in the probably unexpected behaviour of iCloud re-uploading your entire iCloud Photo Library again. There’s a few other cases where your entire photo library is uploaded, but this can present an issue if you’ve run out of space on iCloud.

Apple’s YouTube channel has a bunch of new videos. For starters, there’s three new iPhone X shorts showing off the phone’s selfie capabilities and Animoji, then there’s four new HomePod videos telling us about the incredible sound quality produced by the smart home speaker.

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