Apple's HomePod isn't about Siri, but rather the future of home audio

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  • Reply 41 of 142
    BK2K said:
    I’ve not met anyone who owns an Alexa enabled speaker who doesn’t love it. They’re available now, priced to move and ‘good enough” for the money. Personally the privacy concerns kill it for me and I’d love to control my lights and music with Homepod, but at the moment it’s vapourware. I’d reckon it’s going to be a bumper Christmas for Google and Amazon. Was the point of the article “But Homepod sounds better”? It’s going to have to.
    Indeed if the listening feature cannot be turned off it may be a concern: https://www.wired.com/2017/02/smart-tv-spying-vizio-settlement/

    It may not be so much an intended implementation, as the potential for future unilateral change with or without warning, or hacking or simply an exploit bug:
    https://www.wired.com/story/macos-high-sierra-hack-root/

    Horn loaded tweeters have me very interested in this product from an audio perspective. Also the EQ is in my experience huge - room acoustics play a fundamental role in sound 'color'. For those who feel Apple does not offer high quality audio they may want to consider http://studiosixdigital.com/audio-hardware/iphone_3gs_microphone.html and try the ALAC codec with some high end multi driver headphones...

    https://audioboost.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/ipods-with-wolfson-or-cirrus-logic-audio-chip-which-one-is-better/

    Horns have been a benchmark in audio for the better part of a century http://www.klipsch.ca/products/klipschorn-70th-anniversary-edition and while every type of driver has pros and cons, for accurate transient response especially at the high end I have only ever heard one conventional dome tweeter that could compete with the Klipsch or Decca ribbons...
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 42 of 142
    The author may have done his best to hide his intrinsic "Apple is better anyway" mentality - to no avail. All his definite conclusions on a product that - until now - only didn't meet its launch date, is so lauchable that I stopped reading this article. Instead of being obsessed with Amazon's phone failure he should look at what Amazon does well and rewrite the article. Or get reborn.
    edited December 2017 aylk
  • Reply 43 of 142
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,658member
    Bacillus3 said:
    The author may have done his best to hide his intrinsic "Apple is better anyway" mentality - to no avail. All his definite conclusions on a product that - until now - only didn't meet its launch date, is so lauchable that I stopped reading this article. Instead of being obsessed with Amazon's phone failure he should look at what Amazon does well and rewrite the article. Or get reborn.
    At least the fracking audio specs and capacities are way way way ahead of the pos things Amazon offers (and yes I've heard they're pos "speakers") and what the hell did you just put down as a reply huh? Nothing at all. People have listened to them in actuality (early beta models at that), so you're overstating your own point to make a "point".
  • Reply 44 of 142
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,658member
    BK2K said:
    I’ve not met anyone who owns an Alexa enabled speaker who doesn’t love it. They’re available now, priced to move and ‘good enough” for the money. Personally the privacy concerns kill it for me and I’d love to control my lights and music with Homepod, but at the moment it’s vapourware. I’d reckon it’s going to be a bumper Christmas for Google and Amazon. Was the point of the article “But Homepod sounds better”? It’s going to have to.
    I've got plenty of people I know who find them useless in their Alexa function if not good enough as very cheap speakers.

    The point is that there is no speakers that reconfigures to the environment, location of speaker and location of those who listens to it and music dynamically (at least none in any price range anyone can get). Something like that would indeed be unique an unassailable by anyone but Apple (because it needs a hell of a lot of dsp power and audio knowledge).

    This could lead to create a 3D soundscape that doesn't depend on the source, which is what all current sound system do no matter how many speakers they add.

    Imagine having 6 speakers that can tune the sound to the room, the people moving through it and the sound played in real time; you would always be in the sweet spot.

    It could even place virtual synthetic sounds in the environment and adapt to it, which would be something important in AR. The reality could be augmented without need for speakers in your ears.

    The sound follows you around the house, different people get routed different songs, the system plays a way to isolate them as much as possible, anything is possible.
    Want to make it as loud as possible and while not bothering people upstairs, it adjust to that.
    The possibility of retroaction brings a whole new dimension to audio.


    I always find the lack of imagination of many so called tech people amazing. They'd never move beyond the current paradygm, just built something that's an extension of what already exists.
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 45 of 142
    techrulestechrules Posts: 44unconfirmed, member
    Just nuts Apple missed the holiday with the HomePod.   Then when you look at all the software issues this week that were just crazy things.   Like able to just type "root" and enter a couple of times and able to log in with privileges.   That is not the Apple I have been a fan of before it was "cool" to be a fan.

    Something is very broken and hope Apple figures it out.   Siri just gets destroyed by Google and that does not make any sense at this point.   Was at BestBuy for BF and it seemed every cart had one more more Google Homes in them.    

    Look at how much smarter Google is compared to Apple.

    https://infographic.statista.com/normal/chartoftheday_9580_how_smart_are_smart_assistants_n.jpg

    Apple really needs to get going on the smart speaker front.   This is the big area and will be the hot item sold this holiday and Apple not even playing is bothersome.   AI is different in that it gets better over time versus most product deteriorate.




    edited December 2017 aylk
  • Reply 46 of 142
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,304member
    techrules said:
    Just nuts Apple missed the holiday with the HomePod.   Then when you look at all the software issues this week that were just crazy things.   Like able to just type "root" and enter a couple of times and able to log in with privileges.   That is not the Apple I have been a fan of before it was "cool" to be a fan.
    Sure, no one is saying this is great, but these things happened long before Tim Cook was CEO; so when exactly was this “before it was ‘cool’ to [an Apple] fan” timeframe because it seems like Apple was impressing people right from the very beginning.
  • Reply 47 of 142
    Thank you DED for this great article and I agree with everything in there. 
    Last two years I was looking for an alternative to Harman Kardon Soundsticks, but found nothing more attractive in 200-400 price range.
    Interesting, what A8 can do to my ears..

    P.S. For few people on this forum, you know, Apple is doomed, go get and talk to dots, echos or whatever, but this article isn't about Siri, but rather the future of home audio.
  • Reply 48 of 142
    1. Apple doesn’t offer high quality audio. This is a regular consumer product with decent audio and focus on lifestyle and removing technical friction. 

    2. If Apple wants Siri to become a succes they should stop being arrogant and block the likes of Spotify from having a decent Siri integration. I’m not going to pay $349 for a speaker that can only boot Apple Music when it’s spoken to.
    (Same for Amazon Prime on AppleTV... Apple is abusing their power as platform holder).
    Nope. The only people blocking Amazon Prime app on Apple TV is Amazon. Not sure you understand how app development works on iOS and tvOS, but developers make the apps and if they don’t violate house rules they get approved. There are many other streamer services with apps. Just not Amazon. 
    edited December 2017 brucemc
  • Reply 49 of 142
    Soli said:
    1. Apple doesn’t offer high quality audio. This is a regular consumer product with decent audio and focus on lifestyle and removing technical friction. 

    2. If Apple wants Siri to become a succes they should stop being arrogant and block the likes of Spotify from having a decent Siri integration. I’m not going to pay $349 for a speaker that can only boot Apple Music when it’s spoken to.
    (Same for Amazon Prime on AppleTV... Apple is abusing their power as platform holder).
    1) Hopefully you'll be able to connect BT speakers to HomePod so you can get excellent audio the way you can with Echo so you can have any level of audio in any setup you desire. I'd also like to see Apple allow built-in Siri the way Amazon allows Alexa to work with 3rd-party vendors, but I doubt that will happen.

    2) Is it really Apple preventing Spotify and Amazon from coming to the Apple TV? They offer it for HomePod and there are plenty of other streaming services supported by all other Apple devices. This seems like a 3rd-party app issue.
    On Amazon & AppleTV, after a very long dispute between Amazon and Apple it seems they are finally getting to a beta:
    https://www.google.com/amp/appleinsider.com/articles/17/11/30/amazon-prime-video-app-for-apple-tv-beta-testing-by-employees-underway-release-date-still-unknown/amp/
    There’s no dispute really — Apple charges a percentage for in app purchases and Amazon didn’t want to pay, so no app. Amazon was free to release a Prime “viewer” (only) app, exactly like the one that already exists on iOS, but they chose not to because they hate their customers. End of story. It’s entirely on Amazon here. 
    brucemcfirelock
  • Reply 50 of 142
    Do you mind clarifying what Apple is doing different and/or better?
    Isn't it pretty obvious? Google Home Max = forward facing speakers + no mention of audio beam-forming. Apple HomePod = circular array of speakers + specific mention of audio beam-forming. So, at the very least, you can expect HomePod to be superior for both the room sensing and the amount of stereo separation from a single unit due to the limitations of the Max only having forward facing speakers that lack beam-forming capability.
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 51 of 142
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,244member
    techrules said:
    Just nuts Apple missed the holiday with the HomePod.   Then when you look at all the software issues this week that were just crazy things.   Like able to just type "root" and enter a couple of times and able to log in with privileges.   That is not the Apple I have been a fan of before it was "cool" to be a fan.

    Something is very broken and hope Apple figures it out.   Siri just gets destroyed by Google and that does not make any sense at this point.   Was at BestBuy for BF and it seemed every cart had one more more Google Homes in them.    

    Look at how much smarter Google is compared to Apple.

    https://infographic.statista.com/normal/chartoftheday_9580_how_smart_are_smart_assistants_n.jpg

    Apple really needs to get going on the smart speaker front.   This is the big area and will be the hot item sold this holiday and Apple not even playing is bothersome.   AI is different in that it gets better over time versus most product deteriorate.




    Very surprised that Cortana is better than Alexa, but I use Alex mostly for controlling smart home appliances.  Either way it makes me think that Apple should buy Cortana.   I'm delighted by Alexa the way I was with my first iPhone and iPad.

    If Apple isn't trying to get Siri working better for for the HomePod, then it really makes me wonder why this product wasn't ready for Christmas.

    Either way even DED was predicting that the future HomePod would be a better than Echo/Alexa back last January 2017.   I guess nothing really useful has come out of the VocalIQ acquisition.   

    I'm still not sold on Google having good hardware product control and have passed on trying out the Google Home.    I'll take a look at the HomePod when it finally comes out.   Hopefully Apple figures out that they need to compete aggressively in home audio/assistant market and prices it accordingly (i.e. $299 per home pod, four for $999.   Amazon is definitely a bigger threat than Google. 
  • Reply 52 of 142
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,585member
    Do you mind clarifying what Apple is doing different and/or better?
    Isn't it pretty obvious? Google Home Max = forward facing speakers + no mention of audio beam-forming. Apple HomePod = circular array of speakers + specific mention of audio beam-forming. So, at the very least, you can expect HomePod to be superior for both the room sensing and the amount of stereo separation from a single unit due to the limitations of the Max only having forward facing speakers that lack beam-forming capability.
    Might be better to wait for actual test reviews as there's a number of assumptions you're using.

    For example based on simple specs the assumption would be that Google could not accomplish the far-field responsiveness of the 7-microphone Echo or 6 microphone Sonos with using only 2 on the Home. Or that Google could not accomplish similar out-of-focus Fokah made possible by Apple's twin-lens smartphone camera but only using a single lens to do so on the Pixel 2.  There's often more than one way to get to similar results. Heck no one even knows what the final Home Pod specs and capabilities are outside of Apple themselves.  Right now the Homepod is what many here refer to as vaporware if they were discussing other companies products. (technically Google Home Max is too for at least another week or so if not longer)
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 53 of 142
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,350member
    foggyhill said:
    The point is that there is no speakers that reconfigures to the environment, location of speaker and location of those who listens to it and music dynamically (at least none in any price range anyone can get). Something like that would indeed be unique an unassailable by anyone but Apple (because it needs a hell of a lot of dsp power and audio knowledge). 

    This could lead to create a 3D soundscape that doesn't depend on the source, which is what all current sound system do no matter how many speakers they add.
    I think it also important to recognize how microscopic of a niche anything even resembling audiophile equipment has become in practice. The vast majority of people today don't have an audio/speaker system remotely close to what the typical family had several decades ago.

    This combines the convenience of the those more portable BT speakers, and not having to setup a proper 'stereo system' (which most people don't know anything about anymore, even if they knew where to buy one), with the potential to actually sound fairly good. As someone who cares about reasonably good sound, that might have a very positive impact on audio in general. As I said earlier, I'm betting a lot of people under, say 25 might have never even heard good audio quality in their lives.

    I'm kind of hoping (again, assuming this sounds as good as Daniel has said) that this might raise the bar outside of an extremely small niche of people who spend $10k on their audio systems. Most of the sub-$500 to $1000 systems on the market today are total $*(@% unless you know just the right stuff to buy. And, that's what most people are listening to... and that's if they even have something like that instead of just ear-buds or BT speakers, etc.

    Soli said:
    ... so when exactly was this “before it was ‘cool’ to [an Apple] fan” timeframe because it seems like Apple was impressing people right from the very beginning.
    It wasn't very cool up until like mid-late 2000s. Prior to that, I always had to justify and debate my choice to use Apple. In the 90s, people thought you were nuts unless you were in super-niche jobs. Apple was impressing people from the start, but only people who stopped to seriously consider it and turn off their silly biases.

    foregoneconclusion said:
    Isn't it pretty obvious? Google Home Max = forward facing speakers + no mention of audio beam-forming. Apple HomePod = circular array of speakers + specific mention of audio beam-forming. So, at the very least, you can expect HomePod to be superior for both the room sensing and the amount of stereo separation from a single unit due to the limitations of the Max only having forward facing speakers that lack beam-forming capability.
    Assuming it works well, and isn't just marketing fluff. All the 'room sensing' and adjusting stuff, and simulated surround (heck, even real surround in most cases) I've used (while somewhat limited) has been junk so far. But, maybe with more advanced technology and design, it will be different this time around.
  • Reply 54 of 142
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,304member
    It's interesting that the argument for Apple's delayed and unreleased product with no current timeframe for devilry is being argued by some here based on an marketing language and buzzwords that one has independently tested. That sounds exactly like the kind of crap we make fun of Android-based vendors for doing.

    Not to mention that we're 2 days away from it being just over 6 month since its announcement. Again, if this was any other company we'd be calling it vaporware.

    So why does none of that apply now? Why is a simplistic mention of "beam forming" mean everything now despite no product when that was also part of the marketing of the original Echo back in 2014 when you said that beam forming was stupid and that voice activation in the home will never work. I've been told countless time on this forum that, paraphrasing, "beam forming is pointless marketing speak," to "six microphones means that Amazon doesn't know what they're doing," to "Apple will never create a voice activated speaker for the home because no one wants this."

    If you fail to see the hypocrisy—and I at least know whom a few of you are—then you're just in denial and if you're that delusional you might as well go to your other forum where you claim that Russia in no way tried to subvert the US democracy.
    edited December 2017 gatorguyaylkbaconstang
  • Reply 55 of 142
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    Soli said:
    lkrupp said:
    I have never understood the condescending comparison between the Echo products and the HomePod. If you want a digital assistant to tell you jokes and turn your lights on then yes, go buy an Echo. But if you are interested in superb high quality audio first and digital assistance as a side benefit then the HomePod is your gadget. The two products shouldn’t even be talked about in the same sentence. They are Apples and Oranges. As the author makes quite clear the HomePod is a high end home audio product, not primarily a digital assistant to compete with the Echo line. It’s no different than comparing a cheap pre-paid Android phone with the iPhone X. 
    1) Is HomePod Siri controlled? Yes.

    2) Does Siri tell jokes? Yes.

    3) Are there products that are Alexa controlled and speakers that work with the Echo and other Alexa-capable devices that will sound better than the HomePod? Based on the size and stated specs, that seems like a certainty.

    4) You know Amazon lets anyone license Alexa for pretty much any system they wish, right?

    FWIW Apple's beam-forming for the Home Pod is called TruePlay by Sonos and marketed as Smart Sound by Google.

    Absolutely false.

    All Sonos and Google perform are equalization. Apple is not only analyzing the frequency response of the room
    (and modifying the equalization to compensate) they are also analyzing sound in the time domain.

    This is far more complex than simple EQ (which has been around forever) and will give the HomePod a huge advantage over Sonos, Google or anyone else.
    Eric, Patently Apple chimed in on this several weeks ago commenting that Google Smart Sound was "a clear Apple HomePod rip-off with Smart Sound that will readjust sound using beamforming technology". Another Apple blog, iMore, made the same observation. Same applies to Sonos and TruePlay which based on description of the tech seems little different from Home Pod except in marketing language. 



    Smart Sound can’t do beamforming. Neither can Sonos. I haven’t read the articles you quoted, but if they claim Google and Sonos are doing beamforming then they clearly don’t know a damn thing about audio. And if you’re relying on their opinions than neither do you.
    Unlike you I don't claim to know that Apple or Google Max or Sonos is already the best-sounding of the lot. I also don't claim as fact whether in practice they all arrive at much the same result even if not using the identical hardware or marketing terms. Just repeating comments made by others who have presumably had a least some exposure to them and/or the technology involved just as you are. You claim to already have all the available data necessary to crown the winner tho I doubt it. It may be months before Apple even has a finalized product you can try for yourself, and what Apple demoed 6 months ago may not be identical to what Apple ships a month(s) from now. 

    And yes you are absolutely correct that Google Smart Sound (not certain about Sonos) relies on EQ according to the reading I've done tonight (Thanks. Seriously), so whether "beam-forming" as done in a shipping and finished Home Pod makes much if any difference in a relatively small mid-range individual speaker streaming 256kbps Apple Music (is any other music service supported?) over your own home network in a normal room will be interesting at least. We will all know. Eventually.


    Where did I ever say that HomePod has been "crowned the winner"? All I did was take exception to this incorrect statement made by you:

    "FWIW Apple's beam-forming for the Home Pod is called TruePlay by Sonos and marketed as Smart Sound by Google."

    Beamforming requires multiple drivers in some form of array. That immediately discounts the Google Home Max, Sonos One, Play:1 and Play:3. The Play:5 could have a limited form of beamforming by virtue of its having 3 drivers and directing two of the tweeters outwards. The only product Sonos makes that could potentially do a good job of beamforming would be the Playbase, with 6 mid drivers and 3 tweeters in an array. However, Sonos makes no mention in their literature that the Playbase does anything that could hint at it performing beamforming. The HomePod, with its array of 7 tweeters, is set up nicely to do beamforming.



    This is a short video that simply explains the concept of phase in audio. The reason phase is so important is because beamforming wouldn't be possible without the ability to adjust phase. I'll post up a diagram of the HomePod a bit later showing how phase will work and why it matters.

    edited December 2017 StrangeDays
  • Reply 56 of 142
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,304member
    cgWerks said:
    Soli said:
    ... so when exactly was this “before it was ‘cool’ to [an Apple] fan” timeframe because it seems like Apple was impressing people right from the very beginning.
    It wasn't very cool up until like mid-late 2000s.
    Mid to late 2000s. Nothing cool from Apple until 2005, at the very minimum. Got it. :eyeroll:
  • Reply 57 of 142
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,585member
    edit> Better just to wait....
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 58 of 142
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,350member
    Soli said:
    So why does none of that apply now? Why is "beam forming" in simplistic form with HomePod when that was also part of the original Echo back in 2014, which I've certainly mentioned over the years and have been told that, paraphrasing, "beam forming is pointless marketing speak," "six microphones means that Amazon doesn't know what they're doing," to "Apple will never create a voice activated speaker for the home because no one wants this."

    If you fail to see the hypocrisy—and I at least know whom a few of you are—then you're just in denial and if you're that delusion you might as well go to your other forum where you claim that Russia in now way tried to subvert the US democracy.
    I hear what you're saying, but I guess my skepticism comes more in terms of how well it will actually work or even what's possible for such a device. I'm hoping it isn't just marketing fluff (as, IMO, it has been with most previous 'sound-shaping/enhancing' technologies). Like someone earlier was talking about sending different music to different people in the room. That might seem doable on paper, but I don't think a single HomePod sitting somewhere in a room could do it.

    (re: Russia... whether or not they did, IMO, is rather irrelevant. But if it were, I'd want some credible evidence beyond what happens daily to my own websites, or what any kid with a VPN could have pulled off.... or a Facebook ad-effectiveness marketing campaign.)

    ericthehalfbee said:
    Beamforming requires multiple drivers in some form of array. ... I'll post up a diagram of the HomePod a bit later showing how phase will work and why it matters.
    I understand how it works, but I'm a bit skeptical about what it's capable of in reality. Hopefully it will be capable enough to at least make it a nice listening experience. I'm more concerned about the physical limitations of speakers that can fit into something the size of a milk-carton. But, I'm pretty sure it will beat ear-buds, iPad mini speakers, and cheap BT speakers... so I'm possibly in anyway. :)
  • Reply 59 of 142
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,350member
    Soli said:
    Mid to late 2000s. Nothing cool from Apple until 2005, at the very minimum. Got it. :eyeroll:
    No... nothing the average person or typical tech/computer person thought was cool. It was more exclusive to people paying attention to Apple, or at least open-minded enough to look into it (i.e.: maybe the person who couldn't afford one, but still agreed it was quite good/impressive).

    Prior to that you weren't seen as cool if you used Apple stuff, but eccentric or your credibility was even called into question. I was one of very few IT people who came into companies or meetings with an Apple laptop, and I'm sure I lost potential clients because of it. I've had other IT people directly question my credibility that I could be competent if I used Apple stuff.
    edited December 2017 firelock
  • Reply 60 of 142
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,585member
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    Soli said:
    lkrupp said:
    I have never understood the condescending comparison between the Echo products and the HomePod. If you want a digital assistant to tell you jokes and turn your lights on then yes, go buy an Echo. But if you are interested in superb high quality audio first and digital assistance as a side benefit then the HomePod is your gadget. The two products shouldn’t even be talked about in the same sentence. They are Apples and Oranges. As the author makes quite clear the HomePod is a high end home audio product, not primarily a digital assistant to compete with the Echo line. It’s no different than comparing a cheap pre-paid Android phone with the iPhone X. 
    1) Is HomePod Siri controlled? Yes.

    2) Does Siri tell jokes? Yes.

    3) Are there products that are Alexa controlled and speakers that work with the Echo and other Alexa-capable devices that will sound better than the HomePod? Based on the size and stated specs, that seems like a certainty.

    4) You know Amazon lets anyone license Alexa for pretty much any system they wish, right?

    FWIW Apple's beam-forming for the Home Pod is called TruePlay by Sonos and marketed as Smart Sound by Google.

    Absolutely false.

    All Sonos and Google perform are equalization. Apple is not only analyzing the frequency response of the room
    (and modifying the equalization to compensate) they are also analyzing sound in the time domain.

    This is far more complex than simple EQ (which has been around forever) and will give the HomePod a huge advantage over Sonos, Google or anyone else.
    Eric, Patently Apple chimed in on this several weeks ago commenting that Google Smart Sound was "a clear Apple HomePod rip-off with Smart Sound that will readjust sound using beamforming technology". Another Apple blog, iMore, made the same observation. Same applies to Sonos and TruePlay which based on description of the tech seems little different from Home Pod except in marketing language. 



    Smart Sound can’t do beamforming. Neither can Sonos. I haven’t read the articles you quoted, but if they claim Google and Sonos are doing beamforming then they clearly don’t know a damn thing about audio. And if you’re relying on their opinions than neither do you.
    Unlike you I don't claim to know that Apple or Google Max or Sonos is already the best-sounding of the lot. I also don't claim as fact whether in practice they all arrive at much the same result even if not using the identical hardware or marketing terms. Just repeating comments made by others who have presumably had a least some exposure to them and/or the technology involved just as you are. You claim to already have all the available data necessary to crown the winner tho I doubt it. It may be months before Apple even has a finalized product you can try for yourself, and what Apple demoed 6 months ago may not be identical to what Apple ships a month(s) from now. 

    And yes you are absolutely correct that Google Smart Sound (not certain about Sonos) relies on EQ according to the reading I've done tonight (Thanks. Seriously), so whether "beam-forming" as done in a shipping and finished Home Pod makes much if any difference in a relatively small mid-range individual speaker streaming 256kbps Apple Music (is any other music service supported?) over your own home network in a normal room will be interesting at least. We will all know. Eventually.


    Where did I ever say that HomePod has been "crowned the winner"? All I did was take exception to this incorrect statement made by you:

    "FWIW Apple's beam-forming for the Home Pod is called TruePlay by Sonos and marketed as Smart Sound by Google."
    Google themselves have stated that "(Google's Home's) Assistant uses neural beam forming technology that allows for two microphones plus highly optimized AI and Machine Learning that allows for an even higher accuracy." Since the audio enhancement capabilities of Google Smart Sound include mention of audio improving with use and assisted by "machine learning" and AI it certainly sounds conceivable that Google Home Max does make use of beam-forming to enhance sound and separation even if it's not accomplished as you would expect it to be.
    https://www.google.com/patents/US9502021?dq=beamforming+audio+phase+inassignee:Google&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjz8_qd2-7XAhXo5IMKHTG9DkAQ6AEIKDAA

    Anyway, we'll all know a whole lot more sometime next year. 
    edited December 2017
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