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

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  • Reply 121 of 142
    Honestly I think Apple trying to compete with Bose and Sonos is a waste of time. 
    Any particular reason for thinking that? They've got a significant level of differentiation vs. competitors on the audio side, and there's plenty of Apple tech being leveraged.
  • Reply 122 of 142
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,738member
    BigDann said:
    So to sum it up:
    • Apple needs multiple HomePod devices with a range of power to match to the room it will be used in (size).
    • HomePod devices need an intelligent base unit to host your stuff and serve as the App hub for HomePod services and HomeKit (i.e. HomeBase)
    • Siri is VERY important! It needs to be conversational and not get tripped up with a much deeper lexicon and knowledge base. It needs to be the guardian & concierge of the home. Off loading tasks & protecting you and your family.
    Yes, I'd think at some point you'd want an Apple sub-woofer to add, or one with a bigger bass driver. But, as I've already pointed out, the target market probably doesn't really care if it has a 4" or 12" woofer, as long as it sounds better than their clock-radio or TV. I doubt there ever were a lot of audiophiles, but at least the average family used to have a 'stereo system' that was somewhat capable. Over the lasts few decades, that has largely disappeared too. So, the combo of audiophiles and people with capable stereo systems is now probably like <5% (guess). So, this is for the other 95%.

    I suppose making it more an 'intelligent hub' would be nice, but Apple probably thinks you should just buy an Apple TV too. And, if the rest is in the cloud, then no home-hub w/ storage) needed.

    And, I hope Apple improves Siri, but as previously stated, Apple has a LONG way to go with underlying technologies before it's even possible.

    rogifan_new said:
    Newsflash most people don’t care if they’re the product. That’s why Google is the dominant search engine and almost 2B people use Facebook. 
    I can't argue with that. I'm guessing one of these days, they'll begin to wake up (though maybe too late).
    It's funny that being such a tech-advocate all these years, I'm now working to try and find 'dumb' devices! Try and find a good dumb TV. :(
  • Reply 123 of 142
    VRing said:

    Do you mind clarifying what Apple is doing different and/or better?




    HomePod does a quick analysis to determine the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound. Then it points the audio in different directions to create a resonant chamber. Since different wavelengths will resonate in different patterns, it also splits the EQ band into several channels that are individually thrown around the room, which makes it sound like the vocals, for instance, are coming from a particular spot.

    If two HomePods are together, they team up to enhance this technique. I'm not sure if adding more at that point would activate different patterns, but it's quite possible, and if this type of software is pursued in the future it could create totally fabulous effects. I think this would be great for professional DJ performances in small venues, for instance.

    The Google tech is basically just changing the volume when it gets loud in the room.
    edited December 2017 cgWerkswelshdog
  • Reply 125 of 142
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,628member
    VRing said:

    Do you mind clarifying what Apple is doing different and/or better?




    HomePod does a quick analysis to determine the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound. Then it points the audio in different directions to create a resonant chamber. Since different wavelengths will resonate in different patterns, it also splits the EQ band into several channels that are individually thrown around the room, which makes it sound like the vocals, for instance, are coming from a particular spot.

    If two HomePods are together, they team up to enhance this technique. I'm not sure if adding more at that point would activate different patterns, but it's quite possible, and if this type of software is pursued in the future it could create totally fabulous effects. I think this would be great for professional DJ performances in small venues, for instance.

    The Google tech is basically just changing the volume when it gets loud in the room.
    What Homepod will do with audio is sort of in the same realm as Dolby Atmos.  Dolby uses DSP and multiple speakers to create audio "objects" in movie sound.  The multiple speakers then can move the object around a room.  While Homepod may not be that specific, it is similarly using DSP and multiple speakers/mics/eq to shape and place sound in a room.  I wonder if Tomlinson Holman is involved with Homepod?
  • Reply 126 of 142
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,322member
    VRing said:

    Do you mind clarifying what Apple is doing different and/or better?




    HomePod does a quick analysis to determine the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound. Then it points the audio in different directions to create a resonant chamber. Since different wavelengths will resonate in different patterns, it also splits the EQ band into several channels that are individually thrown around the room, which makes it sound like the vocals, for instance, are coming from a particular spot.

    If two HomePods are together, they team up to enhance this technique. I'm not sure if adding more at that point would activate different patterns, but it's quite possible, and if this type of software is pursued in the future it could create totally fabulous effects. I think this would be great for professional DJ performances in small venues, for instance.

    The Google tech is basically just changing the volume when it gets loud in the room.
    Incorrect.

    On the Home Max music is tuned to the space, accounting for "the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound" like you described for the Home Pod, as well as modifying sound signatures to account for ambient room noise, and automatically adjusting EQ based on the type of music you're listening to.  Just a tad more than changing the volume. ;)
    https://store.google.com/us/product/google_home_max?hl=en-US

    edited December 2017
  • Reply 127 of 142
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,322member
    welshdog said:
    VRing said:

    Do you mind clarifying what Apple is doing different and/or better?




    HomePod does a quick analysis to determine the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound. Then it points the audio in different directions to create a resonant chamber. Since different wavelengths will resonate in different patterns, it also splits the EQ band into several channels that are individually thrown around the room, which makes it sound like the vocals, for instance, are coming from a particular spot.

    If two HomePods are together, they team up to enhance this technique. I'm not sure if adding more at that point would activate different patterns, but it's quite possible, and if this type of software is pursued in the future it could create totally fabulous effects. I think this would be great for professional DJ performances in small venues, for instance.

    The Google tech is basically just changing the volume when it gets loud in the room.
    What Homepod will do with audio is sort of in the same realm as Dolby Atmos.  Dolby uses DSP and multiple speakers to create audio "objects" in movie sound.  The multiple speakers then can move the object around a room.  While Homepod may not be that specific, it is similarly using DSP and multiple speakers/mics/eq to shape and place sound in a room.  I wonder if Tomlinson Holman is involved with Homepod?
    For those considering using a Home Pod as a soundbar for their TV the advice is generally not suggested and for a few reasons. 
    https://17orbits.com/2017/06/18/homepod-theater/

    It will make a good music streamer but was not designed as a home-theater speaker. The lack of optical input or Bluetooth or any 3.5mm connector makes that kinda obvious, tho you could connect via an Apple TV. That doesn't mean Apple might not add to the lineup and create a more appropriate home-theatre speaker at some point, and if (when!) the Home Pod is successful I think they may well do that. There are VERY recently published Apple patents that relate to a multi-speaker (left-right-center +) home theater system they might sell one day. All the parts are pretty much in place to do so with ARKit using your iPhones camera to image the room layout and seating positions and adding some expansion on the tech developed for the Home Pod.

    The Home Pod as currently designed is for Apple Music and iTunes and not designed for nor intended to be your media center sound system.
    edited December 2017 welshdog
  • Reply 128 of 142
    gatorguy said:
    On the Home Max music is tuned to the space, accounting for "the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound" like you described for the Home Pod
    But the Home Max doesn't have beam-forming for audio, so how much adjustment can you really expect beyond volume or EQ? It can't actually change the direction or placement of sounds coming from the speaker. 
  • Reply 129 of 142
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,322member
    gatorguy said:
    On the Home Max music is tuned to the space, accounting for "the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound" like you described for the Home Pod
    But the Home Max doesn't have beam-forming for audio, so how much adjustment can you really expect beyond volume or EQ? It can't actually change the direction or placement of sounds coming from the speaker. 
    TBH neither you nor I have firm evidence yet of the effectiveness of either device for sound-shaping beyond marketing speak and a one-day reveal in a predominantly friendly crowd in a controlled audio space and as reported by a few blogs. We don't even know that what was shown at an event months ago is exactly what will be sold when they become available. Home Pods could be delayed for any number of reasons including that Apple's version of "beamforming" isn't (yet) as effective as they intend it to be, or lacks the distinct advantages over other smart-speakers announced since and so Apple could be working on other reasons to buy Homepod beyond "beamforming".  We don't know because it's not something Apple or any other company would typically comment on when there's change in product plans. 

    Sometime this month you'll be able to hear one of these two for yourself instead of relying on "what someone else says" (if you choose) and the other will be available within months. You can even buy, try and return if you don't want to keep the "foreign" one so as to speak from actual experience. In the meantime writing in absolutes is silly because none of us yet know how these things will perform in our own homes and for the purpose we intend to use them for. Outside of Sonos Play One we can't hear them, see them, or buy them.
     https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/play1.html
    edited December 2017 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 130 of 142
    cgWerks said:
    BigDann said:
    So to sum it up:
    • Apple needs multiple HomePod devices with a range of power to match to the room it will be used in (size).
    • HomePod devices need an intelligent base unit to host your stuff and serve as the App hub for HomePod services and HomeKit (i.e. HomeBase)
    • Siri is VERY important! It needs to be conversational and not get tripped up with a much deeper lexicon and knowledge base. It needs to be the guardian & concierge of the home. Off loading tasks & protecting you and your family.
    Yes, I'd think at some point you'd want an Apple sub-woofer to add, or one with a bigger bass driver. But, as I've already pointed out, the target market probably doesn't really care if it has a 4" or 12" woofer, as long as it sounds better than their clock-radio or TV. I doubt there ever were a lot of audiophiles, but at least the average family used to have a 'stereo system' that was somewhat capable. Over the lasts few decades, that has largely disappeared too. So, the combo of audiophiles and people with capable stereo systems is now probably like <5% (guess). So, this is for the other 95%.

    I suppose making it more an 'intelligent hub' would be nice, but Apple probably thinks you should just buy an Apple TV too. And, if the rest is in the cloud, then no home-hub w/ storage) needed.

    And, I hope Apple improves Siri, but as previously stated, Apple has a LONG way to go with underlying technologies before it's even possible.

    rogifan_new said:
    Newsflash most people don’t care if they’re the product. That’s why Google is the dominant search engine and almost 2B people use Facebook. 
    I can't argue with that. I'm guessing one of these days, they'll begin to wake up (though maybe too late).
    It's funny that being such a tech-advocate all these years, I'm now working to try and find 'dumb' devices! Try and find a good dumb TV. :(
    I wasn't looking for a sub-woofer. The sheer number of cones in the unit should be able to offer enough resonance by phasing two or more together. Think of the inverse of noise canceling.

    Apple can't sustain the needed data flows if everything was cloud based. Besides, FCC's killing of Net Neutrality people will demand their stuff be more local.

    Even Siri will need to be bi-polar ;-} some of it local, other parts cloud based. Just look at the interaction of a smart home we have now and what we really need just from a security model perspective! The concept of realms is needed: You, Your partner, Your kids, Your pets, Your extended family and care takers. Then overlay your and family realms with your home, office, car and vacation home. Then add any one else who would need access would likewise be overlaid here as well. One can think of this as a giant 3D Venn diagram. Some people will have simple configurations, others much more complex depending on the size of their family.
  • Reply 131 of 142
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,738member
    gatorguy said:
    TBH neither you nor I have firm evidence yet of the effectiveness of either device for sound-shaping beyond marketing speak and a one-day reveal in a predominantly friendly crowd in a controlled audio space and as reported by a few blogs. We don't even know that what was shown at an event months ago is exactly what will be sold when they become available. Home Pods could be delayed for any number of reasons including that Apple's version of "beamforming" isn't (yet) as effective as they intend it to be...
    I think what is being said is that at least in theory, Apple's design is capable of doing something meaningful with the technology (how great it is, we'll have to wait and see). If you just have a few forward-facing speakers, you might technically be able to add some circuitry and logic to do 'beamforming' or 'simulated' something or other, but not with any meaningful results.

    BigDann said:
    I wasn't looking for a sub-woofer. The sheer number of cones in the unit should be able to offer enough resonance by phasing two or more together. Think of the inverse of noise canceling.

    Apple can't sustain the needed data flows if everything was cloud based. Besides, FCC's killing of Net Neutrality people will demand their stuff be more local.

    Even Siri will need to be bi-polar ;-} some of it local, other parts cloud based. Just look at the interaction of a smart home we have now and what we really need just from a security model perspective! The concept of realms is needed: You, Your partner, Your kids, Your pets, Your extended family and care takers. Then overlay your and family realms with your home, office, car and vacation home. Then add any one else who would need access would likewise be overlaid here as well. One can think of this as a giant 3D Venn diagram. Some people will have simple configurations, others much more complex depending on the size of their family.
    I think we're talking a (single) 4" woofer, right? There's only so much you can do with that.

    re: net neutrality - Apple now has enough money to pay their way. The bigger fear would be to be on the right ISP (that Apple is most in partnership with) or the impact on startups. But, I'm not expecting any huge change... we've had pseudo-Net Neutrality for what, 2 years? And, what the FCC had was flawed. I'm all for the principal of net neutrality, but it needs to be properly implemented and enforced to have any impact. What the USA most needs right now is competition.

    re: Siri - Apple has to get down basic 90s search engine technology before they tackle any of that. :(
  • Reply 132 of 142
    i hope the delayed release of homepod also means they can begin selling it to a wider market and not only to major countries such as us and europe.
  • Reply 133 of 142
    cgWerks said:

    re: net neutrality - Apple now has enough money to pay their way. The bigger fear would be to be on the right ISP (that Apple is most in partnership with) or the impact on startups. But, I'm not expecting any huge change... we've had pseudo-Net Neutrality for what, 2 years? And, what the FCC had was flawed. I'm all for the principal of net neutrality, but it needs to be properly implemented and enforced to have any impact. What the USA most needs right now is competition.
    Sorry guy we all end up paying for it ;-{ Apple will just add the cost to everything that uses it and pass the cost on to us.
    Soli
  • Reply 134 of 142
    The HomePod is about home audio, because it can't be any other way. It's 2017 -- 6 years after Apple launched Siri! -- and it is still terrible.

    After 6 years, Apple has not markedly improved Siri's speech recognition model, breadth of knowledge, or dramatically expanded 3rd party support. The Google Assistant has been out for only a year, and it's better in all of these areas. It's ridiculous. 

    On Apple TV, Siri only gets a query right after several attempts *every time* I use it. I can't imagine buying a HomePod after my experience with Apple TV, because Siri is only way you interact with it.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 135 of 142
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,628member
    gatorguy said:
    welshdog said:
    VRing said:

    Do you mind clarifying what Apple is doing different and/or better?




    HomePod does a quick analysis to determine the shape of the room and how the walls reflect sound. Then it points the audio in different directions to create a resonant chamber. Since different wavelengths will resonate in different patterns, it also splits the EQ band into several channels that are individually thrown around the room, which makes it sound like the vocals, for instance, are coming from a particular spot.

    If two HomePods are together, they team up to enhance this technique. I'm not sure if adding more at that point would activate different patterns, but it's quite possible, and if this type of software is pursued in the future it could create totally fabulous effects. I think this would be great for professional DJ performances in small venues, for instance.

    The Google tech is basically just changing the volume when it gets loud in the room.
    What Homepod will do with audio is sort of in the same realm as Dolby Atmos.  Dolby uses DSP and multiple speakers to create audio "objects" in movie sound.  The multiple speakers then can move the object around a room.  While Homepod may not be that specific, it is similarly using DSP and multiple speakers/mics/eq to shape and place sound in a room.  I wonder if Tomlinson Holman is involved with Homepod?
    For those considering using a Home Pod as a soundbar for their TV the advice is generally not suggested and for a few reasons. 
    https://17orbits.com/2017/06/18/homepod-theater/

    It will make a good music streamer but was not designed as a home-theater speaker. The lack of optical input or Bluetooth or any 3.5mm connector makes that kinda obvious, tho you could connect via an Apple TV. That doesn't mean Apple might not add to the lineup and create a more appropriate home-theatre speaker at some point, and if (when!) the Home Pod is successful I think they may well do that. There are VERY recently published Apple patents that relate to a multi-speaker (left-right-center +) home theater system they might sell one day. All the parts are pretty much in place to do so with ARKit using your iPhones camera to image the room layout and seating positions and adding some expansion on the tech developed for the Home Pod.

    The Home Pod as currently designed is for Apple Music and iTunes and not designed for nor intended to be your media center sound system.
    I was not suggesting Homepod would be suitable for home theater use, merely that it seems to be using tech similar to Atmos.  Thanks for adding some good info to the discussion, those patent filings look interesting.  Sound future at Apple looking good.
  • Reply 136 of 142
    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.

    That’s correct. Neither of them do beamforming and especially not Trueplay. Apples approach is much more sophisticated which is why it needs such a powerful processor. We will have to see what the final result sounds like but I’m optimistic. 
  • Reply 137 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.
    All the echos sound terrible and there are plenty of people saying them in the Amazon reviews. They had an opportunity to improve sound quality in the latest generation and didn’t do it. 
  • Reply 138 of 142
    fmalloy said:
    Until this is actually delivered all this beamforming and phase and multiple drivers and microphones is just talk and hype. We need to hear it for ourselves, in our own rooms. I have a high-quality (depends on your standards) amp and speakers with 12" woofers, along with midrange and tweeter drivers. I'll be very interested to hear what it sounds like with only 4" drivers. Even with long-throw woofers, the excursion needs to be carefully controlled. They have to move a lot of air. I'm skeptical. And it's not stereo?
    Moving lots of air hasn’t been required for awhile for good sound. 
  • Reply 139 of 142
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,384member
    snookie said:
    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.
    All the echos sound terrible and there are plenty of people saying them in the Amazon reviews. They had an opportunity to improve sound quality in the latest generation and didn’t do it. 
    Sonos One sound terrible for the price? No BT speakers you can connect to an Echo can make it sound good for the money?
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 140 of 142
    As a long-time Apple customer and Apple watcher, I'm predicting the HP will die the same death the iPod HiFi did. Whether the comparison to the Echo and Home are valid, the majority of consumers will see that, once again, Apple has come late to the party and jacked up the price compared to the competition. I've heard it all before from both the critics and the PC users I work with. The perception that Apple charges more for the same or less technology is still prevalent and regardless that Amazon is selling you stuff and Google is data mining its users to make their voice assistants more capable, the fact that Siri still doesn't have the ability to answer a follow up question makes it look like Apple is selling snake oil.

    Apple would almost be better off to introduce HomePod just as an audio product without Siri at first, tying it to an app for control. THEN add Siri so that consumers see Siri as an added benefit and not compare HP with the other home speakers. Just my 2¢.
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