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Music The Almighty Buck Apple Hardware

Apple Announces Its 'Next Breakthrough' Product: the HomePod (techcrunch.com) 198

Apple unveiled its home speaker during WWDC 2017 on Monday. The device, called HomePod, will go toe-to-toe with existing competitors such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Apple said it wanted to combine good speakers with smart speakers you can talk to, referencing Sonos and Amazon Alexa. It said the speaker "needs to rock the house" free from distortion. It also needs to have "spatial awareness" to make the music sound good no matter the room size. It also needs to be fun to use, Apple said, adding that the HomePod does all of this with a customer's privacy in mind. From a report: The device is a pill-shaped circular speaker. It has 7 beam-forming tweeter array. It has a custom-made woofer and an Apple A8 chip. It has multi-channel echo cancellation, real-time acoustic modeling and more. The HomePod can scan the space around it to optimize audio accordingly. Schiller spent a lot of time talking about how good it sounds. Of course the speaker works well with Apple Music. You can talk to the speaker to play anything in your Apple Music library and more. You can say "play more songs like that," or "I like this song." [...] It's going to cost $349. It comes in white and space grey. It starts shipping in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. Other countries will get HomePods next year.
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Apple Announces Its 'Next Breakthrough' Product: the HomePod

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    That does actually sound like some interesting tech.
  • Still, no... (Score:5, Informative)

    by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Monday June 05, 2017 @02:38PM (#54553631) Journal

    I didn't want the Echo. I didn't want the Home. I don't want this, either.

    In fact, I'm not exactly sure why anyone would want something like this. I really don't want something in my home that's always listening and potentially sending my speech out to computers that I don't control.

    • Well if you like creamed corn [xkcd.com] I suppose they are a good device.
    • It looks like it's 20 feet tall. I think you don't put it in your home, you go and live in it.

      • The New HomePod, powered by people too poor to afford iMacs. It's the next step in the gig economy. No car or driver's license required, just the ability to sit in a pod, Google for answers, and say them out loud.

    • by shmlco ( 594907 )

      "I really don't want something in my home that's always listening and potentially sending my speech out to computers that I don't control."

      Do you own a smartphone? Tablet? Notebook computer? Xbox One? Modern LCD TV?

      Too late. Too late. Too late. Too late.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        do you own a microwave oven?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        If your smartphone/tablet/notebook are always listening then you should be more careful what you install on your devices. As for as so called "smart TVs", just do not connect them to the internet.
        • by shmlco ( 594907 )

          His complaint was in regard to installing a device with a microphone that's "always listening."

          My point is that if you've bought a modern phone, tablet, notebook, gaming system, or tv, then you've already brought a device with a microphone into your home and that device -- insofar as you know -- could already be listing to everything going on around it.

          Forget the apps or potential malware. For all you know the capability could already be baked into the system.

          As I said, too late.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        No. Yes, an older one without even a microphone. Yes - it runs Linux. No. Not with any network connectivity.

    • I can basically already pretty much accomplish this with my iPad or iPhone, using airplay to my own speakers connected to my relatively cheap third-gen Apple TV or relatively cheap Airport Express. I'm not particularly interested in paying Apple $349 for this new device.

      I will admit the tech looks interesting. And if I were looking at these sorts of devices, the privacy argument would weigh heavily in making a decision.

      • I can basically already pretty much accomplish this with my iPad or iPhone, using airplay to my own speakers connected to my relatively cheap third-gen Apple TV or relatively cheap Airport Express.

        Not really. We have an Echo, and you definitely can't replicate it with a combo of tablets/phones and accessories. The biggest difference is that the Echo (and all other devices in the arena) have specialized microphones that are good at directional listening. If you're in my living, say "Alexa" and its lights will glow in your direction as it listens to your next words, not those of someone on the other side of the room. You won't get that level of listening accuracy unless you're speaking directly toward

      • I can basically already pretty much accomplish this with my iPad or iPhone, using airplay to my own speakers connected to my relatively cheap third-gen Apple TV or relatively cheap Airport Express.

        Does that mean this thing - like iDevices - can't be requested to play music from services other than Apple Music? If so that's pretty shit, Echo, Google Home and Sonos all support multiple services even though the 2 former ones both have competing music services.

        • Does that mean this thing - like iDevices - can't be requested to play music from services other than Apple Music?

          This is not really correct. I don't use Apple Music; and when I tell my iPhone to "open Pandora", it works just fine.

          I have no idea whether or not the new device will allow other services though.

          • Does that mean this thing - like iDevices - can't be requested to play music from services other than Apple Music?

            This is not really correct. I don't use Apple Music; and when I tell my iPhone to "open Pandora", it works just fine.

            It is correct, I specifically wrote "play music", you can tell Siri to open any app but you cannot tell it to play music from that app, that only works with Apple's music service and no other.

    • I didn't want the Echo. I didn't want the Home. I don't want this, either.

      In fact, I'm not exactly sure why anyone would want something like this. I really don't want something in my home that's always listening and potentially sending my speech out to computers that I don't control.

      If that's the case get rid of your computers and your phones. In fact rip the Internet out of your house. Because if you're that much of a Person of Interest, they'll be able to tap you even if you don't get one of those speakers. I'm intrigued by the device and the tech that lets them pair up, but Apple should sell a B speaker companion for this rather than having someone pay 700 dollars for stereo speakers that would wind up having a ton of redundant tech.

      • So you wouldn't mind having a bunch of complete strangers in each room of your house as long as they weren't doing anything but listening to everything you said and did? In my opinion, it doesn't matter whether they would be interested in what I am saying or not; it is just a creepy idea that someone could listen if they wanted to.
      • by trb ( 8509 )

        You'll be amazed at the monaural sound. Make sure you play back with the RIAA standard curve for optimum listening pleasure. Where were you in '62? Yeah, you can by two of these amorphous blobs for lifelike stereo, but really?

    • In fact, I'm not exactly sure why anyone would want something like this. I really don't want something in my home that's always listening and potentially sending my speech out to computers that I don't control.

      Of the people I know who have devices like this, they typically use them to control their thermostat, lighting, and music through voice commands. When pointed out they could easily get up and change all these things, they will pretty much reply "Fuck that, I'm a blue collar worker who has been working hard all day and am going to collapse into my couch and read my book/watch tv/play video games without having to get up again till I have to pee."

      • When pointed out they could easily get up and change all these things, they will pretty much reply [...]

        "[...] do you also avoid remote control TVs, painandgreed, or do you only like being inconvenienced by other appliances? Also, buy your own beer next time."

    • I didn't want the Echo. I didn't want the Home. I don't want this, either.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anyone forced you to buy either of those, and the same applies to the Home.

      In fact, I'm not exactly sure why anyone would want something like this.

      People who aren't you.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      In fact, I'm not exactly sure why anyone would want something like this. I really don't want something in my home that's always listening and potentially sending my speech out to computers that I don't control.

      Too bad Apple's biggest problem is they're on a privacy kick, then. They're making themselves different from Google by not sending everything into the cloud, in fact, they're moving stuff away from the cloud and more into on-device computing. Look at the number of times they say "this is done on your

    • In fact, I'm not exactly sure why anyone would want something like this. I really don't want something in my home that's always listening and potentially sending my speech out to computers that I don't control.

      It's not always listening. It's only listening when you address it with "Hey Siri". And one thing about Apple is that they make their profit by selling you expensive hardware, not by spying on you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and I have to buy & participate in Apple's closed, expensive ecosystem just to run it?

    No thanks

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Really not worth it

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Even better is the Echo Dot, $300 less than the Homepod and you can easily connect it to any decent bluetooth speaker for much better sound than the Homepod will provide.

    • And still less storage than a Nomad. Lame.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @02:41PM (#54553671)
    copying Amazon?
  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @02:43PM (#54553689)

    I have a Rythmik F15 sub with a 15" driver.

    I can't imagine listening to bass on a wimpy 4" driver. You want at _least_ a 10" driver for music, bigger for movies.

    Who is this targeted at? All the iHipsters who thinks Beats headphones sound good??

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      Apple owns Beats now, so just connect the dots.
    • Wireless beats headphones, nonetheless.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 05, 2017 @03:10PM (#54553943)

      Driver size doesn't meaningfully limit bass response. An 8 inch driver all else equal if going to go 2hz lower than a 6 inch driver. At 10 inches you are adding less than 1hz. With piano and a very trained ear you'll notice the missing 3hz. With modern bass heavy music you wont even realize its missing. The larger size lets you go 3db louder though. That's a lot.

      The lack of actual cabinetry to promulgate bass energy is a much bigger problem than the smaller driver. To promulgate bass with that volume of space to work with you have to sacrifice midrange accuracy. This is why dialog from Sonos soundbars sounds so "weird." To get the convincing bass they have to sacrifice on the midrange. The midrange tweeter is being drowned out with interference.

      A 10 inch drive necessitates a room of at least 400sq feet too. Small rooms cant accommodate 10 inch drivers. It's just going to be far too loud. A 10" driver is something like a Tannoy DC-10 DC-10A. Those are $8-16k speakers. They are amazing, but they need a very big room. I used to own a pair of Tannoys with 15" drivers. Those things were AMAZING. But not I live in a small apartment and cant use speakers like those.

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        A 10 inch drive necessitates a room of at least 400sq feet too. Small rooms cant accommodate 10 inch drivers. It's just going to be far too loud.

        It's the other way around. A room of 400 square feet or more necessitates at least 10" drivers. I'm using 10" drivers in a home theater room that's only about half that size, and it is not too loud. That's why amplifiers let you independently adjust the bass output to suit the room.

        Eight-inch drivers are great for near-field monitors that are only three or four

        • I'm not convinced that any amount of cabinet design can give decent base response even at close distances with a 4.5" cone, though, unless they've drastically increased the cone excursion limits; ported speakers only get you so far.

          My main speakers are Adam A5X's, they have a 5" (they say 5.5", but it's more like 5" actual cone diameter) woofer and are flat to 55Hz, -3dB at 50Hz. And this is at full output, which is over 110dB @ 1m for a pair. That's certainly loud and deep enough for most music.

          Another good example is the JBL LSR305. That also has a 5" woofer, and they measure flat to 50Hz.

          Modern active monitor speakers really are little technological wonders.

      • Driver size doesn't meaningfully limit bass response. An 8 inch driver all else equal if going to go 2hz lower than a 6 inch driver. At 10 inches you are adding less than 1hz. With piano and a very trained ear you'll notice the missing 3hz. With modern bass heavy music you wont even realize its missing. The larger size lets you go 3db louder though. That's a lot.

        So it does actually meaningfully improve bass response and performance. 25Hz is worthless if you can only output it at 75dB with 20% distortion.

        A 10 inch drive necessitates a room of at least 400sq feet too. Small rooms cant accommodate 10 inch drivers. It's just going to be far too loud.

        That's funny, because I use a pair of 12" subs in a ~180 sqft living room, and the room accommodates them very well indeed. How loud they play is simply a function of the gain setting on the subs and your own control of the volume knob. Of course, like all speaker systems, they need room correction (EQ or something more fancy) to perform at their best.

      • > Driver size doesn't meaningfully limit bass response.

        That's incorrect. Why do you think people Sono-Subs [google.com] ???

        First, it is NOT about volume.

        Second, using a larger driver provides two key benefits:

        * Efficiency -- a larger driver has to work LESS to move the same VOLUME of air as a smaller driver. Which leads to me next point.

        * Less Distortion -- a larger driver typically has less distortion then a smaller driver via the fact that it typically has to work less.

        > The lack of actual cabinetry to promulga

  • What's that in the summary about keeping the consumer's privacy in mind? Where did that come from? The word "privacy" does not appear in TFA.

    It's a sad state of the industry where Apple feels it's important to mention what color the device will be, but not any privacy benefits (presumably because it doesn't have any).

    If there is real information that shows privacy advantages of HomePod viz. Amazon Echo and Google Home, I would love to see it. But I'm not optimistic -- from where I'm sitting it looks like Go

    • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

      At least in the Keynote, they mentioned that all information sent over the internet (Siri context search) uses an anonymous "siri ID" instead of your name/login/userid. And encrypted end-to-end.

    • 1. it's only listening for "Hey Siri", until then there's no IO from the mic subsystem

      2. it only talks over the network when you make a request

      3. communicatons to/from the server are anonymized and encrypted

      There's not a lot of tech detail there, but they did talk about it and Apple business model is clearly based on user privacy (not sure what rock you've been living under).

  • "will go toe-to-toe with existing competitors such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home"

    That doesn't appear to be what this is.

    It's a JBL OnAir with voice commands. And maybe wifi that doesn't continually disconnect and fail to reconnect.

    Not with $350 to me, but I suspect some will want it.

  • Nintendo (Score:5, Funny)

    by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @03:08PM (#54553921) Homepage

    I want Nintendo to make a home speaker, and I want them to call it the HomeBoy, and I want Flavor Flav to star in the commercials. And, it would be cool, because it would know what TIME it is.

  • Not available now? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @03:12PM (#54553963)

    It just seems a massive strategic oversight that this isn't going to be ready until December. Most of the world will probably be waiting till this time next year to get their hands on the units. Any hype they hoped to generated with the announcement will have been long forgotten by December, and the delay will give Google/Amazon plenty of time to develop a game plan to disrupt their launch. I mean, what is the point of keeping it secret if you're going to make everyone wait 7 months before they can get it?

    I remember Jobs once pointed out that one of the most important sentences Apple included in their keynotes was 'ships now'. He was right. Since the whole airpod delays I thought they would have got this stuff under control.

  • by Kryptonut ( 1006779 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @03:23PM (#54554053)
    At $50....how can I not be happy? And if I want better sound, it has a 3.5mm jack (because Amazon doesn't have the "courage" to remove it) and bluetooth.....hell for $350....I can put one in every room in my house.
    • by dk20 ( 914954 )

      I also have a DOT and am impressed with what it can do at that price point. I will probably get a few "echo" units as well.

      One would think Apple will have a hard time moving a $350 item when i can get two echo's at that price. History indicates this isnt the case and apple fans will run and line up for days to get one before their friends have it.

      Just waiting for amazon.ca to start sellling htem..
      As it stands now, it doesnt actually ship from Canada, so when i ask for the weather i need to specify the cou

  • Apple will soon claim the HomePod to be prior art, and sue both the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

    • c'est exact, and in three years we'll be reading how they invented the category, and probably right here. -j/k

      - js.

  • Homepod is just another unremakable doohickey designed to help separate you from your money in ever conceivable way.

    It;s in the same vein as all the "new" social media stuff....

    2002, Friendster: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
    2003, Photobucket: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
    2003, Myspace: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
    2004, Flickr: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
    2004, Facebook: At last, a way to connect with friends on the i

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @04:41PM (#54554581)

    I'm getting a huge kick out of reading all the critiques of this device...considering that nobody who loves or hates it has ever seen one in person.

    How about this, guys...let's actually wait until they start selling them to decide how much they rock/suck balls? You know, just an idea...

  • by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Monday June 05, 2017 @05:18PM (#54554893)
    Excellent! Another Apple product not to buy. As always: Fuck Apple
  • Well, I guess it really is true. Apple has become too big to be innovative anymore. The Woz quote: [bgr.com]

    Interestingly enough, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak believes that Apple’s time as an innovative company may be coming to an end.

  • I suppose they would've used 'iHome' if that weren't already a brand name of electronics. If they're targeting the "high-end Bluetooth speaker" market, that happens to be able to tie in to the connected iDevice's OS, that angle could work. People are used to shitty $10 Bluetooth speakers, and if the speakers are really as great as they say, it should be a big improvement over the competition, particularly if the comparison is Google Home type devices. I wonder how sales will compare to the Apple Watch; I se

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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