Wish list: HomePod needs an officially adjustable EQ, and much better Siri at WWDC

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After spending a few months with Apple's home speaker, the hardware execution remains fantastic, but the software weaknesses in the HomePod are becoming increasingly apparent. The disparity between the two got us thinking about how we would like to see HomePod improve in the future.




We aren't talking about a whole second-generation HomePod hardware release (we have opinions on that too!), but improvements to audioOS, the operating system for HomePod.

Just like all of Apple's other platforms (iOS, watchOS, tvOS, macOS), the HomePod is able to receive its own regular updates.

WWDC, where Apple updates all of its major operating systems, is coming up very soon. The HomePod has not been around during past WWDC events so it is unclear what, if anything, Apple will say about the HomePod or its future updates.

If Apple does decide to announce new and upcoming changes for audioOS, here is what we hope to see.

More audio streaming

HomePod will gladly let you stream Apple Music or your iTunes Match library. However, if you listen to Spotify or another streaming service your only recourse is to use AirPlay.




We don't want Apple to rely on AirPlay for getting those disparate sources to the HomePod. We'd like to be able to ask Siri to turn into iHeartRadio, or pick up where we left off in our latest audiobook, and even Spotify or Pandora with the HomePod itself doing the fetching, rather than having another device push the content.

Without Bluetooth or aux cable support, streaming support for other services is even more important.

Seriously, Siri

We have a lot of issues with Siri. We outlined many of them in a standalone piece dedicated to her shortcomings. As it pertains to the HomePod, there are a number specific areas that really need to be improved.

Siri is completely fragmented from Apple's other platforms. Siri on HomePod can't set multiple timers is a glaringly obvious misstep. Additionally, Siri can't make a phone call, can't look up a recipe, and really can't compete with the skills and abilities found on Alexa and Google Assistant.

Siri needs to drastically improve overall to contend with the other virtual assistants on the market.

EQ adjustments

Aside from manually adjusting the EQ in the settings on your phone for AirPlay, HomePod desperately needs its own settings.

Others, like the Zipp speaker we just reviewed, have different audio profiles which would also be acceptable.




Listening to spoken word, movies, or genres of music can all require different balances in the audio. In general, we find the bass far too heavy on HomePod while listening to audiobooks or watching movies.

HomePod does make adjustments on the fly, but is not nearly sufficient for all situations.

Apple's own short-lived iPod Hi-Fi had adjustable EQ levels, and the EQ can be manually adjusted in iTunes and then streamed to the HomePod, but once again, we'd like on-device controls rather than relying on pushing adjusted content. In theory, this shouldn't be a hard task.

Multiple user support

Multi-user support is part Siri in software, and part HomePod in hardware. When someone asks Siri to play one of their playlists, HomePod should know which user is asking. Same with adding a reminder, reading a message, or liking a song.

Users are currently stuck disabling personalization for Apple Music, or having other users muddying up their recomendations and preferences. This isn't the most user-friendly thing we can think of.

Apple TV integration

Apple excels when it comes to integrating their products. That ecosystem is a large reason why users choose Apple over competitors. So far, HomePod seems lacking in this area.

It is quite early in the HomePod lifecycle, but even this early on it seems rather green.

One area that would be a good arena to explore is integration with Apple TV. HomePod can be used as an AirPlay speaker for the Apple TV and ultimately two of them can be used for stereo separation, but that is where the partnership ends.

We want to be able to ask Siri to play/pause the Apple TV or even turn on a movie/TV show. Essentially to act as a remote. A level of this functionality looks to be coming with AirPlay 2, but we are sure there is more that can be done.

HomePod could also be used to perform other actions with the Apple TV as well. Such as opening apps, opening a live view of a HomeKit camera, or displaying the week's weather.

A tighter integration between HomePod and Apple TV also gives customers more justification to buy them over a competing speaker or streaming device.

HomeKit

Deeper HomeKit integration could be coming with AirPlay 2, but we want to still mention it. We would love to see HomePod (and other AirPlay 2 speakers) integrated into HomeKit scenes and controlled like any other HomeKit accessory.




Create a good morning scene that turns on the lights, opens the blinds, opens the garage, and plays a morning playlist on HomePod. Perhaps even trigger a "welcome home" mix after arriving home following a long day at work.

There are lots of possibilities here, we just need HomePod to support the basic principle of one home automation suite to rule them all. Binding in the darkness is optional.

Fingers crossed

HomePod, which may or may not be selling well, has much to improve on before it is as robust as Apple's other platforms.

Apple baked an A8 processor and 1GB of RAM into the speaker so it should be decently powerful in meeting some of our requests. HomePod also offloads some personalized requests, such as those dealing with contacts, messages, lists, and notes, onto a synchronized iPhone or iPad rather than pressing then on-device. This tactic could be useful for some of our other requests as well.

We admittedly have lofty expectations for what we could see with audioOS at WWDC this year. Most of what we want could take a couple years before it ever comes to fruition. The original watchOS 1.0 was lacking a bit, and it has taken years to become as solid as it is today.

Here's hoping that Apple surprises us with audioOS as the fifth operating system to receive a major update this year at WWDC 18.

Be sure to check out our other wish lists, including those on the 2019 Mac Pro, Mac mini, Apple Watch, Siri, HomeKit, and CarPlay.
patchythepirate
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    Homepod, just like Apple Watch, is for people who are ready to pay for letting them test infinished product for Apple. In 2-3 years it probably will be a worth buy. 
    aylklarryawilliamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 32
    I still don't understand what people are getting at in regards to EQ. If you want to manually adjust EQ, use AirPlay. That's the perfect vehicle for those types of adjustments anyway...high-res screen with touch control and ability to easily move sliders up/down etc. And the reality is that Apple's auto EQ adjustments with HomePod are already quite good. I can easily tell that bass response changes to fit songs on a playlist that has a variety of artists and genres. It doesn't just bomb the bass on every track.
    equality72521
  • Reply 3 of 32
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,587member
    Homepod, just like Apple Watch, is for people who are ready to pay for letting them test infinished product for Apple. In 2-3 years it probably will be a worth buy. 
    Nonsense. The AW was a great product on day 1 (when I got mine) and only got better with time. My prime use cases were and remain: activity tracker in the gym, wireless ipod, stand alerts, notifications, and payments. I now do more siri and homekit uses as its gotten faster. 
    equality72521mwhiteanantksundaramwilliamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 32
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,222member
    We need SiriKit for music and podcasts. And everyone who says AirPlay that’s BS. Why should I have to use my phone if I want to listen to music outside of Apple Music? I want to be able to say “Hey Siri, play Mellow Jazz from Jazz Radio and Siri to know it’s the Jazz Radio app. Or “Hey Siri, play my funk playlist from Pandora”. Having to control all of this from my phone defeats the purpose of having a voice controlled speaker in the first place. And if Apple assumes the only place I get music from is Apple Music we’ll that’s just arrogant.
    aylkanantksundaram
  • Reply 5 of 32
    These points and the lack of promised stereo and multi-room capability are really disappointing. We purchased two units with the understanding that these two promised features were in fact "coming soon", now that 11.3 has come and still not here had my wife wanting to return the pods and wait to see if Apple ever follows through on those promises before repurchasing. We actually filed a support case with AppleCare and have been told we can return them even though we are well outside of the usual return by date. Waiting on the wife's final decision on that one... She loves the sound, hates that it does not deliver as promised.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 501member
    We need SiriKit for music and podcasts. And everyone who says AirPlay that’s BS. Why should I have to use my phone if I want to listen to music outside of Apple Music? I want to be able to say “Hey Siri, play Mellow Jazz from Jazz Radio and Siri to know it’s the Jazz Radio app. Or “Hey Siri, play my funk playlist from Pandora”. Having to control all of this from my phone defeats the purpose of having a voice controlled speaker in the first place. And if Apple assumes the only place I get music from is Apple Music we’ll that’s just arrogant.
    So your complaint has to do with Siri’s abilities in general, not just with HomePod. Siri can’t do the things you’re asking on your phone or any iOS device as of today. So did Apple’s assumption become arrogant when HomePod was released or prior to that ? 
  • Reply 7 of 32
    You already can play and pause Apple TV content with HomePod. It’s limited at the moment, but play and pause work OK for me. 

    I really hope they sort timers out, just so people stop moaning about bloody timers.

    Love my HomePod. I know, **** me right?!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 32
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,874member
    If there is a better version of Siri available, it should be rolled out immediately... if not sooner. It would make no sense to wait for WWDC to make people's lives a bit easier.
  • Reply 9 of 32
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,222member
    jcs2305 said:
    We need SiriKit for music and podcasts. And everyone who says AirPlay that’s BS. Why should I have to use my phone if I want to listen to music outside of Apple Music? I want to be able to say “Hey Siri, play Mellow Jazz from Jazz Radio and Siri to know it’s the Jazz Radio app. Or “Hey Siri, play my funk playlist from Pandora”. Having to control all of this from my phone defeats the purpose of having a voice controlled speaker in the first place. And if Apple assumes the only place I get music from is Apple Music we’ll that’s just arrogant.
    So your complaint has to do with Siri’s abilities in general, not just with HomePod. Siri can’t do the things you’re asking on your phone or any iOS device as of today. So did Apple’s assumption become arrogant when HomePod was released or prior to that ? 
    There are no controls on the HomePod other than volume up/down. Clearly Apple intended HomePod to be a voice first platform.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 10 of 32
    irelandireland Posts: 17,413member
    In your recent dedicated Siri feature wish list piece you said:

    Similarly if asked a phrase akin to "search for AppleInsider in the App Store", Siri will respond something along the lines of, "Searching the Web for 'AppleInsider in the App Store.'" and return a Google search. Not exactly what was desired.

    I just tested that there. It now works. Siri popped me into the App Store and had “Apple Insider” searched for...

    My single Siri request could I submit only one would be much improved dictation. Yes, Siri needs more features, but until dictation is much better Siri won’t be reliable. Or maybe make iPhone mics better and that would help?
    edited April 24
  • Reply 11 of 32
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,241member
    If HomePod had come with these requested features right from the start it would be regarded as a classic ‘magical’ Apple device.
    Instead its launch is ruined. In fact like Newton, I don’t think it can ever recover. Might as well go back and redesign the hardware too for a relaunched ‘ new’ product, because this botched launch will forever taint HomePod.
    larryawilliamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 32
    irelandireland Posts: 17,413member
    entropys said:
    If HomePod had come with these requested features right from the start it would be regarded as a classic ‘magical’ Apple device.
    Instead its launch is ruined. In fact like Newton, I don’t think it can ever recover.
    Odd comparison. The great thing about HomePod is will improve over time, and now that this high profile smart speaker is launched Apple are forced to really get their Siri act together. They have a new leader on the Siri team and have additionally hired a high profile Google search exec. The next 18 month’s will tell a lot. The hardware is rock solid and beautiful. They need now to iterate on the software more quickly and not wait for WWDC each year to improve Siri with new features.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 32
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 165member, editor
    I still don't understand what people are getting at in regards to EQ. If you want to manually adjust EQ, use AirPlay. That's the perfect vehicle for those types of adjustments anyway...high-res screen with touch control and ability to easily move sliders up/down etc. And the reality is that Apple's auto EQ adjustments with HomePod are already quite good. I can easily tell that bass response changes to fit songs on a playlist that has a variety of artists and genres. It doesn't just bomb the bass on every track.
    See, that only works for music. It is literally inside of the Music category inside of the settings app. If you are listening to Spotify, Pandora, a movie, a TV show, or anything else on AirPlay, those EQ settings don't work.

    And sure, the iPhone is a great place to adjust EQ. with its "high-res screen with touch control and ability". Exactly why it should be on the iPhone, in the Home app, under HomePod details. Where all of the other HomePod settings live. We would never suggest that those controls be displayed directly on the HomePod.

    HomePod's auto EQ works decently enough when playing music, but if you do anything else, like use it for a movie, the bass is heavy and sloppy. I actually returned my second HomePod for this reason.
  • Reply 14 of 32
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,857member
    Homepod, just like Apple Watch, is for people who are ready to pay for letting them test infinished product for Apple. In 2-3 years it probably will be a worth buy. 


    The Apple Watch is a finished product. When the Original Apple Watch first came out, which I'm still using, the software side of things have greatly changed, and for the better. Having a growing Homekit house, being able to control everything on my Apple Watch, kind of makes any of these Smart Speakers Limited and locked into a room. I can be walking back home from the 7/11 down the block, lift my wrist and go "Hey Siri, Open garage" and my garage door is open as I walk up the driveway. It's really cool with Bluetooth on my Motorcycle Helmet and I can open and close the garage, using Siri from my iPhone. Or getting home, need to drop something off in my backyard, lift my wirst and go "Hey Siri, Turn on outside garage light" and BAM, the light outside over my side fence gate turns on so I can see over there on the side of my house. So and and so on. I'm really looking forward to being able to open and close my 2" blinds that I've automated to work with Siri. Right now I use a app. Siri would be quicker and easier.

    I have a Google Mini and a Amazon Dot that I play with, but Amazon is really over rated. and Siri is not as bad as some people seem to think. Siri also gets better as you use it more. Apple is always working on Siri. What may not have worked for you in the past, may do what you want now. For example, I just tried the "search for AppleInsider in the App Store" using Siri and it worked just fine.

    I use the voice dictation sometimes and it works surprisingly well for me. But you need to talk clearly and not FAST. Slow down a bit and not talk like you would another human. I'll be in my room, my 12.9" iPad pro off to the side for Siri, and just start asking Siri, Google and Amazon questions and see how they all respond. Siri holds it's own. Sometimes I even like Siri's answer just a bit better as it's a bit more of a human response. They all have their Pros and Cons. Siri is also not the same Siri on Apple's different devices. From the sound of things, it seems like Siri on the Homepod is kind of limited, locked down some.

    Siri on my Apple Watch is kind of poky. It is the Orignal and I plan to upgrade when the next Apple Watches get released. I know Siri is so much faster. But Siri right now will finish what you tell it and works good.
    edited April 24 Foliocornchip
  • Reply 15 of 32
    holyoneholyone Posts: 377member
    Hey @andrew what do you think of Alexa Blue Prints, it sound so Apple I had to check if it was really Amazon, only it is, kinda of a shame it isn't Apple.

    When I suggested that Apple was entering a market they didn't seem to get with the HomePod, I was promptly lambasted by the wonderful folks who patrol these streets, sure the augment will be made that Apple is in competition with high-end sonos and not with cheap eco trash, but do we really think HP would exist if it wasn't for all the buzz Alexa was getting thus prompting this hack job sub par effort from Tim, what's yet to be answered is what exactly did Apple fix when this product was delayed and they claimed it wasn't ready ? Was it then subsequently ready when it finally shipped ? was how it is now what Apple was aiming for from when they first announced it ? Is this what Apple regards as ready?

    http://www.techhive.com/article/3269067/speakers/amazon-alexa-blueprints-skills-siri-google-assistant.html
  • Reply 16 of 32
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,347member
    I still don't understand what people are getting at in regards to EQ. If you want to manually adjust EQ, use AirPlay. That's the perfect vehicle for those types of adjustments anyway...high-res screen with touch control and ability to easily move sliders up/down etc. And the reality is that Apple's auto EQ adjustments with HomePod are already quite good. I can easily tell that bass response changes to fit songs on a playlist that has a variety of artists and genres. It doesn't just bomb the bass on every track.
    See, that only works for music. It is literally inside of the Music category inside of the settings app. If you are listening to Spotify, Pandora, a movie, a TV show, or anything else on AirPlay, those EQ settings don't work.

    And sure, the iPhone is a great place to adjust EQ. with its "high-res screen with touch control and ability". Exactly why it should be on the iPhone, in the Home app, under HomePod details. Where all of the other HomePod settings live. We would never suggest that those controls be displayed directly on the HomePod.

    HomePod's auto EQ works decently enough when playing music, but if you do anything else, like use it for a movie, the bass is heavy and sloppy. I actually returned my second HomePod for this reason.
    Andrew, Excellent Article.   Glad someone wrote it as these are points that are needed to attract more customers.    Its a good thing you didn't post these as your first comment because you would have been attacked here as a Troll.
     
  • Reply 17 of 32
    Homepod, just like Apple Watch, is for people who are ready to pay for letting them test infinished product for Apple. In 2-3 years it probably will be a worth buy. 
    You may or may not be right about the HomePod, but you’re quite clueless about the Watch. I am utterly content with my Series 0. I have had no desire to buy the subsequent versions. It was a remarkably well-designed product at intro, and has since only got better. 
    dewme
  • Reply 18 of 32
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,098member

    If Apple does decide to announce new and upcoming changes for audioOS, here is what we hope to see.

    Well I’m no Nostradamus, but here’s my cynical take:

    More audio streaming



    Not yet.


    Seriously, Siri



    Seriously, AI...


    EQ adjustments


    Guessing the the coin toss will come down on tails.


    Multiple user support 



    Multiple no’s. 


    Apple TV integration



    I’m thinking Apple thinks Siri is already integrated into Apple TV remote.


    HomeKit



    My guess is we’ll all be disappointed, but we might get a couple nuggets of cool.


    Fingers crossed



    I can see why!

  • Reply 19 of 32
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 165member, editor
    k2kw said:
    I still don't understand what people are getting at in regards to EQ. If you want to manually adjust EQ, use AirPlay. That's the perfect vehicle for those types of adjustments anyway...high-res screen with touch control and ability to easily move sliders up/down etc. And the reality is that Apple's auto EQ adjustments with HomePod are already quite good. I can easily tell that bass response changes to fit songs on a playlist that has a variety of artists and genres. It doesn't just bomb the bass on every track.
    See, that only works for music. It is literally inside of the Music category inside of the settings app. If you are listening to Spotify, Pandora, a movie, a TV show, or anything else on AirPlay, those EQ settings don't work.

    And sure, the iPhone is a great place to adjust EQ. with its "high-res screen with touch control and ability". Exactly why it should be on the iPhone, in the Home app, under HomePod details. Where all of the other HomePod settings live. We would never suggest that those controls be displayed directly on the HomePod.

    HomePod's auto EQ works decently enough when playing music, but if you do anything else, like use it for a movie, the bass is heavy and sloppy. I actually returned my second HomePod for this reason.
    Andrew, Excellent Article.   Glad someone wrote it as these are points that are needed to attract more customers.    Its a good thing you didn't post these as your first comment because you would have been attacked here as a Troll.
     
    Glad I made it out relatively unscathed for my opinions here!
  • Reply 20 of 32
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 165member, editor
    holyone said:
    Hey @andrew what do you think of Alexa Blue Prints, it sound so Apple I had to check if it was really Amazon, only it is, kinda of a shame it isn't Apple.

    When I suggested that Apple was entering a market they didn't seem to get with the HomePod, I was promptly lambasted by the wonderful folks who patrol these streets, sure the augment will be made that Apple is in competition with high-end sonos and not with cheap eco trash, but do we really think HP would exist if it wasn't for all the buzz Alexa was getting thus prompting this hack job sub par effort from Tim, what's yet to be answered is what exactly did Apple fix when this product was delayed and they claimed it wasn't ready ? Was it then subsequently ready when it finally shipped ? was how it is now what Apple was aiming for from when they first announced it ? Is this what Apple regards as ready?

    http://www.techhive.com/article/3269067/speakers/amazon-alexa-blueprints-skills-siri-google-assistant.html
    Yeah, so, I'm torn here.

    Look, I love the idea of the voice assistants getting better. More skills like this is really what is needed to make the actually... useful.
    With Amazon Alexa specifically, it is so hit and miss. I hate how the commands work, and half the time they don't even work properly. I have my pet feeder connected to Alexa and whenever I activate her, she mishears me, then when she does understand me, she says she can't feed my dog. Even though it is the exact command I used every other time.

    In the end I wind up frustrated and doing whatever I asked of her manually. That frustrating will kill the assistants because people will become more annoyed than delighted by them.

    Trying to turn peoples perception around once it goes sour can be a daunting task and I think that is something Apple was trying to avoid, though they still ended up there for many.
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