HomePod stereo pairs supported in macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta

Posted:
in macOS edited February 2
Apple appears to be working on system-level support for HomePod stereo pairs with its upcoming macOS 11.3 update, delivering a long-requested feature that has been available on iOS and tvOS for years.




Current macOS releases restrict playback on stereo-paired HomePods to certain apps like Apple Music, with system audio relegated to individual HomePods. Further complicating matters, apps that do support stereo pairs force users to manually select speaker groups from the AirPlay menu.

As noted by 9to5Mac, HomePod pairs are listed as selectable options in macOS 11.3 beta's system sound output pane. Clicking on a paired set results in stereo output, identical to HomePod handling on iOS.

According to the report, the feature is not working consistently, suggesting Apple is hammering out bugs on the way to public release. It is unclear if the feature is compatible with HomePod mini.

The news should come as a relief to HomePod owners who have pined for stereo sound on Mac since the smart speakers launched in 2018.

Stereo pairing is a major HomePod and HomePod mini feature that automates setup and playback processes. After setting up a first HomePod, users are able to add a second unit -- of the same type -- to create a stereo pair that leverages onboard audio technology to significantly widen perceived soundstage.

It remains unclear whether Apple will complete development of HomePod stereo pairs in time for macOS 11.3's release, but it is apparent that the company is finally working to deliver what some consider to be a glaring omission in Mac's software feature set.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    Finally!!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Wow, I’d have thought that “feature” would have been there as the default.

    I’ll stick with my KEF LSX speakers.
    mobird
  • Reply 3 of 25
    thrangthrang Posts: 866member
    What they need to fix is the bug when setting an Hompod as a Default Speaker for an Apple TV - when "paired" this way, the HomePod "Hey Siri" is, while not completely disabled, largely useless (you cannot "Hey Sir" requests for Music and Podcast playbacks, though oddly it will still give you the weather or control Home devices)

    While I understand there may be a few scenarios where playback control priority can be a little challenging to assume programmatically, an easy scenario to fix is to allow HomePod Siri full functionality if the associated Apple TV is asleep. Right now, if the AppleTV is asleep and I ask that HomePod to play something, you simply get a "Sorry, I'm having a problem connecting to Apple Music " or something like that.

    If I start playback on another HomePod, and they ask it to also play on the problem child, it works. Same for initiating on the phone - 

    So the control logic is a bit half-assed right now...

    StrangeDayswatto_cobraminicoffee
  • Reply 4 of 25
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,011member
    I don't understand how the glacial rate new features are added at Apple are justifiable to the management... Apple are happy enough to dump existing APIs all the time and announce the next new *Kit but when it comes to existing features, they are often abandoned or long-standing bugs go unfixed for months or more until they get media attention. The paired-stereo infrastructure is all there, and has been for years, it must be very little effort to add the "stereo pair" attribute to the AirPlay stream, and recycle the iTunes Airplay code.
    minicoffee
  • Reply 5 of 25
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,011member
    thrang said:
    What they need to fix is the bug when setting an Hompod as a Default Speaker for an Apple TV - when "paired" this way, the HomePod "Hey Siri" is, while not completely disabled, largely useless (you cannot "Hey Sir" requests for Music and Podcast playbacks, though oddly it will still give you the weather or control Home devices)

    While I understand there may be a few scenarios where playback control priority can be a little challenging to assume programmatically, an easy scenario to fix is to allow HomePod Siri full functionality if the associated Apple TV is asleep. Right now, if the AppleTV is asleep and I ask that HomePod to play something, you simply get a "Sorry, I'm having a problem connecting to Apple Music " or something like that.

    If I start playback on another HomePod, and they ask it to also play on the problem child, it works. Same for initiating on the phone - 

    So the control logic is a bit half-assed right now...

    My annoyance is similar, with multiple devices able to hear "Hey Siri". The logic seems to rely on BTLE signal strength, and if a device doesn't detect a HomePod in the vicinity for whatever reason it'll decide to take over from the HP and process what I say instead. Or sometimes even both devices do it simultaneously. Which is *really* annoying. My watch does it too occasionally when it's just on my wrist at rest. It's stupid that you can't change the keyword, or at least change it from Hey Siri to Hey HomePod. 
    edited February 3
  • Reply 6 of 25
    All i would like is my Mini HomPods to connect to my Samsung tv with out buying and extra piece.like Apple TV.  I have Apple TV +. that should be enough.
    jeffharris
  • Reply 7 of 25
    elijahg said:
    I don't understand how the glacial rate new features are added at Apple are justifiable to the management... Apple are happy enough to dump existing APIs all the time and announce the next new *Kit but when it comes to existing features, they are often abandoned or long-standing bugs go unfixed for months or more until they get media attention. The paired-stereo infrastructure is all there, and has been for years, it must be very little effort to add the "stereo pair" attribute to the AirPlay stream, and recycle the iTunes Airplay code.
    Welcome to the curse of "feature-itis". 

    Hide what's broke behind the new and the shiny… forgotten.

    elijahg
  • Reply 8 of 25
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 453member
    “Wow, I’d have thought that “feature” would have been there as the default.

    I’ll stick with my KEF LSX speakers.“
    ======================

    Apple is kinda busy with changing entire computer industry chip architecture right now. So in terms of priorities, some things had to be put on hold.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    geekmee said:
    “Wow, I’d have thought that “feature” would have been there as the default.

    I’ll stick with my KEF LSX speakers.“
    ======================

    Apple is kinda busy with changing entire computer industry chip architecture right now. So in terms of priorities, some things had to be put on hold.
    I seriously doubt the team working on processor architecture are the same as the team working on home/office audio products.
    elijahgminicoffee
  • Reply 10 of 25
    Connecting to your Smart TV should have been there from Day One with your Mini HomePod.
    jeffharriselijahg
  • Reply 11 of 25
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,011member
    elijahg said:
    I don't understand how the glacial rate new features are added at Apple are justifiable to the management... Apple are happy enough to dump existing APIs all the time and announce the next new *Kit but when it comes to existing features, they are often abandoned or long-standing bugs go unfixed for months or more until they get media attention. The paired-stereo infrastructure is all there, and has been for years, it must be very little effort to add the "stereo pair" attribute to the AirPlay stream, and recycle the iTunes Airplay code.
    Welcome to the curse of "feature-itis". 

    Hide what's broke behind the new and the shiny… forgotten.

    Yes I'm not sure the yearly big releases help that too much. macOS used to be released when it was ready, not on a yearly schedule. MS actually seems to do a better job with that on Windows nowadays, with the three stages of release and regular release of new features - means if something breaks it's likely to be the only thing broken, rather than  10 broken things, as happens after every yearly release of macOS. Plus you can easily roll-back to previous versions too, whereas it's a full reinstall on Macs. No reason Apple couldn't do roll-backs seamlessly with APFS snapshots.
    edited February 3 jeffharris
  • Reply 12 of 25
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,107member
    thrang said:
    What they need to fix is the bug when setting an Hompod as a Default Speaker for an Apple TV - when "paired" this way, the HomePod "Hey Siri" is, while not completely disabled, largely useless (you cannot "Hey Sir" requests for Music and Podcast playbacks, though oddly it will still give you the weather or control Home devices)

    While I understand there may be a few scenarios where playback control priority can be a little challenging to assume programmatically, an easy scenario to fix is to allow HomePod Siri full functionality if the associated Apple TV is asleep. Right now, if the AppleTV is asleep and I ask that HomePod to play something, you simply get a "Sorry, I'm having a problem connecting to Apple Music " or something like that.

    If I start playback on another HomePod, and they ask it to also play on the problem child, it works. Same for initiating on the phone - 

    So the control logic is a bit half-assed right now...
    I’ve noticed odd things like this before (I use my HP pair as default speakers for ATV). I’ve submitted bugs...it would be nice if they can get it sorted out. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 25
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,107member
    elijahg said:
    thrang said:
    What they need to fix is the bug when setting an Hompod as a Default Speaker for an Apple TV - when "paired" this way, the HomePod "Hey Siri" is, while not completely disabled, largely useless (you cannot "Hey Sir" requests for Music and Podcast playbacks, though oddly it will still give you the weather or control Home devices)

    While I understand there may be a few scenarios where playback control priority can be a little challenging to assume programmatically, an easy scenario to fix is to allow HomePod Siri full functionality if the associated Apple TV is asleep. Right now, if the AppleTV is asleep and I ask that HomePod to play something, you simply get a "Sorry, I'm having a problem connecting to Apple Music " or something like that.

    If I start playback on another HomePod, and they ask it to also play on the problem child, it works. Same for initiating on the phone - 

    So the control logic is a bit half-assed right now...

    My annoyance is similar, with multiple devices able to hear "Hey Siri". The logic seems to rely on BTLE signal strength, and if a device doesn't detect a HomePod in the vicinity for whatever reason it'll decide to take over from the HP and process what I say instead. Or sometimes even both devices do it simultaneously. Which is *really* annoying. My watch does it too occasionally when it's just on my wrist at rest. It's stupid that you can't change the keyword, or at least change it from Hey Siri to Hey HomePod. 
    I thought there was a more detailed support page on how it works, but this one says it’s the one that heard you best. 

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208472
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,107member

    deepriver said:
    All i would like is my Mini HomPods to connect to my Samsung tv with out buying and extra piece.like Apple TV.  I have Apple TV +. that should be enough.
    ATV+ is a video streaming service and has nothing to do with HomePods. 

    HomePods are Apple-only hardware and not general Bluetooth speakers. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 25

    deepriver said:
    All i would like is my Mini HomPods to connect to my Samsung tv with out buying and extra piece.like Apple TV.  I have Apple TV +. that should be enough.
    ATV+ is a video streaming service and has nothing to do with HomePods. 

    HomePods are Apple-only hardware and not general Bluetooth speakers. 
    On my Samsung Smart tv, the show up as bluetooth, but will not connect like my AirPods.   Just think they should.  Awsone speakers.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 25
    thrangthrang Posts: 866member
    thrang said:
    What they need to fix is the bug when setting an Hompod as a Default Speaker for an Apple TV - when "paired" this way, the HomePod "Hey Siri" is, while not completely disabled, largely useless (you cannot "Hey Sir" requests for Music and Podcast playbacks, though oddly it will still give you the weather or control Home devices)

    While I understand there may be a few scenarios where playback control priority can be a little challenging to assume programmatically, an easy scenario to fix is to allow HomePod Siri full functionality if the associated Apple TV is asleep. Right now, if the AppleTV is asleep and I ask that HomePod to play something, you simply get a "Sorry, I'm having a problem connecting to Apple Music " or something like that.

    If I start playback on another HomePod, and they ask it to also play on the problem child, it works. Same for initiating on the phone - 

    So the control logic is a bit half-assed right now...
    I’ve noticed odd things like this before (I use my HP pair as default speakers for ATV). I’ve submitted bugs...it would be nice if they can get it sorted out. 
    I got a senior Apple support specialist last week on the phone, who acknowledges this is as designed, though engineers are working on improvement (he agreed it is poor implementation).

    Apparently the issue arose as part of the solution in developing the Home Theater Audio option in ATV for system-wide output. So it appears Apple "knows" it's an issue, but aren't publicly acknowledging it.

    If you happen to have a stereo HomePod pair set as default to an Apple TV, Siri will work - this is because only one of the two speakers is "captured" by the ATV in Default Output mode - the second speaker receives the other channel ATV audio via a wireless connection between the two Homepods. Thus, the "non-captured" speaker in the pair is free to listen to Siri commands in the room, will will play back requests in stereo (I have a stereo pair in another room, and discovered this by chance, and it was later confirmed by Apple)

    There are inconsistencies in logic and behavior in several ways as it currently stands. Its definitely improved over the past year or so, but not allowing Siri playback to a HomePod speaker paired with a ATV (especially when not playing content or asleep), is a very weird miss.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,237member
    deepriver said:

    deepriver said:
    All i would like is my Mini HomPods to connect to my Samsung tv with out buying and extra piece.like Apple TV.  I have Apple TV +. that should be enough.
    ATV+ is a video streaming service and has nothing to do with HomePods. 

    HomePods are Apple-only hardware and not general Bluetooth speakers. 
    On my Samsung Smart tv, the show up as bluetooth, but will not connect like my AirPods.   Just think they should.  Awsone speakers.
    Apple never promised that the HomePod would work as a generic Bluetooth speaker.  Any device which supports AirPlay will work with it, so check for AirPlay compatibility before buying a TV, stereo receiver, etc.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    deepriver said:

    deepriver said:
    All i would like is my Mini HomPods to connect to my Samsung tv with out buying and extra piece.like Apple TV.  I have Apple TV +. that should be enough.
    ATV+ is a video streaming service and has nothing to do with HomePods. 

    HomePods are Apple-only hardware and not general Bluetooth speakers. 
    On my Samsung Smart tv, the show up as bluetooth, but will not connect like my AirPods.   Just think they should.  Awsone speakers.
    They don't because they aren't BT speakers -- BT is lower-bandwidth that the higher-fidelity audio signals HPs use which are part of why they sound better. They use wifi and BT, but the BT is for device communication, like handshakes.
    watto_cobraminicoffee
  • Reply 19 of 25

    thrang said:
    thrang said:
    What they need to fix is the bug when setting an Hompod as a Default Speaker for an Apple TV - when "paired" this way, the HomePod "Hey Siri" is, while not completely disabled, largely useless (you cannot "Hey Sir" requests for Music and Podcast playbacks, though oddly it will still give you the weather or control Home devices)

    While I understand there may be a few scenarios where playback control priority can be a little challenging to assume programmatically, an easy scenario to fix is to allow HomePod Siri full functionality if the associated Apple TV is asleep. Right now, if the AppleTV is asleep and I ask that HomePod to play something, you simply get a "Sorry, I'm having a problem connecting to Apple Music " or something like that.

    If I start playback on another HomePod, and they ask it to also play on the problem child, it works. Same for initiating on the phone - 

    So the control logic is a bit half-assed right now...
    I’ve noticed odd things like this before (I use my HP pair as default speakers for ATV). I’ve submitted bugs...it would be nice if they can get it sorted out. 
    There are inconsistencies in logic and behavior in several ways as it currently stands. Its definitely improved over the past year or so, but not allowing Siri playback to a HomePod speaker paired with a ATV (especially when not playing content or asleep), is a very weird miss.
    Definitely. I want them to do what I want when I want. Seems to me that should be doable since they control the stack. Expecting it to get better over time.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,011member
    elijahg said:
    thrang said:
    What they need to fix is the bug when setting an Hompod as a Default Speaker for an Apple TV - when "paired" this way, the HomePod "Hey Siri" is, while not completely disabled, largely useless (you cannot "Hey Sir" requests for Music and Podcast playbacks, though oddly it will still give you the weather or control Home devices)

    While I understand there may be a few scenarios where playback control priority can be a little challenging to assume programmatically, an easy scenario to fix is to allow HomePod Siri full functionality if the associated Apple TV is asleep. Right now, if the AppleTV is asleep and I ask that HomePod to play something, you simply get a "Sorry, I'm having a problem connecting to Apple Music " or something like that.

    If I start playback on another HomePod, and they ask it to also play on the problem child, it works. Same for initiating on the phone - 

    So the control logic is a bit half-assed right now...

    My annoyance is similar, with multiple devices able to hear "Hey Siri". The logic seems to rely on BTLE signal strength, and if a device doesn't detect a HomePod in the vicinity for whatever reason it'll decide to take over from the HP and process what I say instead. Or sometimes even both devices do it simultaneously. Which is *really* annoying. My watch does it too occasionally when it's just on my wrist at rest. It's stupid that you can't change the keyword, or at least change it from Hey Siri to Hey HomePod. 
    I thought there was a more detailed support page on how it works, but this one says it’s the one that heard you best. 

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208472
    Thanks for the link, I was (correctly) under the impression that the HP should be the priority, though it seems if you have AirPods in it's pot luck if you're near a HP. Unfortunately I regularly get my brother's phone responding when I'm speaking to the HomePod, which is really annoying. Some kind of voice recognition for Hey Siri would make sense here too, so then a device only responds to the owner. The check could be made immediately after the Hey Siri keywords, so battery life wouldn't be affected though responses would be 50ms or so slower.
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