Thursday Morning News

A review of the HomePod from Ars Technica calls out Apple’s wireless home speaker for “intense inflexibility”. Siri and using AirPlay to stream from another device are the only ways to get the HomePod to play some tunes. There’s no wired input, Bluetooth support, and certainly no Ethernet, making it all but useless for Android users. All of which makes the price hard to swallow for a device that’s so limited, even if it does sound reasonably good.

The Verge has more on the comments from Ars about the HomePod locking you into Apple’s ecosystem of Apple Music and iOS devices. They claim HomePod is open hostile to any hardware or service that’s not made by Apple. While it’s possible that Apple will take a look at all of this feedback and open up HomePod to support more devices and streaming services, that seems unlikely to happen in the short to medium term.

David Pogue conducted a blind test of HomePod audio quality, following Apple’s listening session which allowed journalists to hear the difference between HomePod and other home speakers. Unexpectedly, Pogue’s test subjects didn’t rate the HomePod as sounding the best, like Pogue himself did at Apple’s listening session, or at a dress rehearsal of the blind test the night before. His conclusion? Different music is different, different people are different, and audio preferences are highly subjective.

All of that doesn’t mean that the HomePod audio quality is bad, per se. Multiple reviews have pointed out how good the HomePod sounds, both by itself and when compared to other smart speakers. Fast Company tested HomePod audio quality using professional audio equipment, which allowed them to come out and praise the HomePod for incredibly consistent sound across the entire range.

Apple’s support article on cleaning and taking care of your HomePod has been updated with a paragraph explaining why some HomePod owners have noticed the device leaving white circles on some wooden surfaces. Apple’s explanation says it’s possible that the silicon used on the bottom of the HomePod interacts with the oil used in some wood finishes, with Apple’s ultimate recommendation to place the HomePod on a different surface if this is something that you’re concerned about.

An updated augmented reality mini-site from Apple shows off the capabilities of the technology. Besides showcasing some great AR experiences within apps that you can download right now, there’s also the various ways AR can be used for productivity, play, and learning.

Over at MacStories, Federico Vitticci tells us about the new apps he’s using this year. The apps themselves aren’t new — most of them were released a few years ago — but it’s the way in which he’s using them that counts, with every pick being deliberate and having real reasons behind their usage.

Gabe from MacDrifter shows off some of the new Keyboard Maestro macros he’s been using. There’s one to create a sequence of numerical folders, and one to get the path of the current Finder folder, both of which can be accomplished easily in Keyboard Maestro.

Twelve South has shown off their SurfacePad for iPhone X. It’s a lot thinner that similar folio-style cases, because it uses reusable adhesive technology to stick to the back of the iPhone X, rather than using a bulky case attachment. The SurfacePad for iPhone X currently retails for US $49.99, although I haven’t seen a local distributor just yet.

The successor to Alto’s Adventure is Alto’s Odyssey, which is now available for pre-order in the App Store. It’s billed as a prequel to the original, but I’m sure it’ll be just as good when it launches late next week.

Notable Replies

  1. Ain’t that the truth.

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