Wednesday Morning News

HomePod reviews are out, ahead of the device’s release on Friday. The Verge has a lengthy take that starts simply enough: “it sounds amazing. Is that enough?” Given that you’re locked into Apple’s ecosystem, can’t even use the HomePod like a paired Bluetooth speaker, and need to AirPlay everything to it, it’s a fair question, and one that you’ll have to come up with an answer to if you’re looking to buy a HomePod for yourself. If lock-in isn’t a problem, then by most accounts, HomePod will be a very good home audio system.

By contrast, Matthew Panzarino’s review of the HomePod, over at TechCrunch, contains just four sentences followed by an appendix of details. In the bulk of his review, Panzarino covers build quality, sound quality (including comparisons to other speakers available today), design details, and the business justification for why Apple decided to get into the home speaker game in the first place.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop was given a tour of the audio labs at Apple where the HomePod — among other audio-related Apple products — were developed. A series of soundproofed rooms and anechoic chambers allowed Apple to test HomePod audio qualities without outside interference. It’s telling that all of the processors and microphones in Apple’s HomePod are trying to eliminate anything that could impact the sound coming out of it, not doing fancy things to the audio to make it sound better.

If you want a HomePod and didn’t pre-order, you’ll probably have to get up early on Friday to reserve one at an Apple Store, or you could try your luck in-person. They’re sold out online, with delivery dates starting from Tuesday next week. It’s unclear whether Apple Stores will have HomePods on demo, but it’s hard to see why they wouldn’t, given they already demo other speaker setups.

Senator John Thune called upon Apple in January to answer for the lack of transparency it showed when deciding to throttle older iPhones to prevent unexpected shutdowns caused by the deteriorating performance of chemically aged batteries. Apple’s five-page response published by Thune’s office today re-tells the story so far, including little new information besides considerations for customers who have already paid full price for battery replacements, as well as how newer devices deal with the issue.

The second developer beta of iOS 11.3 has been released, and it brings with it the first of new battery health features. Apple’s support article on iPhone battery and performance has new screenshots explaining how the new battery health section within Settings works, and how to interpret the new measures of maximum battery capacity and peak performance capability.

Notably, MacRumors points out that upgrading to iOS 11.3 will disable all power management features, including throttling based on poor battery health, by default on all devices. While that’s the case for the beta, it remains to be seen whether Apple will enable this for the public release. I’m on the fence about whether they should, seeing it as essentially reverses their previous decision to throttle performance based on battery health without notifying users.

Variety reports Apple has named veteran music journalist Alex Gale for the position of head of editorial for Apple Music. Gale will report to Apple’s director of project management and editorial, Jen Robbins.

The New York Police Department is rolling out something like 600 iPhone 7 or 7 Plus devices per day, replacing Windows Phones that officers previously carried. 36,000 devices will be deployed in total, with a price tag of zero, thanks to the rollout being counted as an upgrade by US carrier AT&T.

A new Apple patent for a stylus that works on any surface, even if it isn’t a screen with embedded sensors, seems like pure fiction. The smart application of sensors means that we can make these kinds of things possible.

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