Apple hires new HomePod Software Head to boost lackluster speaker sales

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  • Reply 21 of 44
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,903member
    I find the Homepod hand off from iPhone to be kind of a mess. The proximity thing is cool, but it works in a confusing manner behaving different ways at differet times. Sometimes iPhone asks if I want to send the current song to the Homepod, sometimes it just does it on it's own. Sometimes it plays what is on my phone other times it plays the last thing playing on the Homepod. I can of course select a Homepod via Airplay directly which is fine, but I feel there needs to be some polishing here. Not their best effort.
    elijahgcaladanianwilliamlondon
  • Reply 22 of 44
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,952member
    It has to either be smart, or sound good.
    And, if it is in that 'sound good' category (like discontinued HopePod) then it needs an audio input so it isn't a one-string-banjo.
    I'm not sure why Apple is having such a hard time with this.
    elijahgcaladanianmuthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonrcfa
  • Reply 23 of 44
    The HomePod was/is likely my favorite Apple product, and I own many Apple products and have since the Apple II. The mini is okay, but the sound is not close to the original. Siri works extremely well for me. I use it for a range of things and information. The issue with HomePod, mini or otherwise, is the lack of advertising. I never see a TV ad for much of anything other than iPhone and the Watch.
    edited October 2021 rcfa
  • Reply 24 of 44
    I love both my OG HomePod and my HomePod Minis. I do notice better connectivity with the Minis due to the W1 chip. I wish Apple would upgrade the OG. The sound can’t be beat! Just market it as a speaker. 
    edited October 2021 williamlondonrcfa
  • Reply 25 of 44
    I habe two pairs of the big ones, and two pairs of the minis. 

    The issue is ‘t sound IMO. The big ones sound rich, the minis anemic in comparison but for their size I guess pretty good. 

    The main issues are Siri, connectivity (only ac on the big k es, only n on the minis coming with connectivity issues with certain routers), and the near impossibility to clean them properly. 
  • Reply 26 of 44
    charlesn said:
    I'm normally a 100% Apple guy, but the three smart speakers in my home are all Alexa-based because Siri is useless for too many things. It's that simple. And better HomePod software isn't going to change that. My impression is that Apple's Siri division basically slept through the last decade while Amazon left them in the dust when it comes to Alexa connectivity to the internet of things. Building a better speaker doesn't matter when it comes with a dumber assistant. 
    It really is astonishing how useless Siri is most of the time given the amount of time they’ve had to correct course.  It still can’t do what Google Assistant was doing 5 years ago much less come close to it today.  I still don’t use Google products because they track everything they can.  Come on Apple.
    elijahgwilliamlondon
  • Reply 27 of 44
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 1,119member
    How about replacing Siri's voice with Steve Jobs'?
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 28 of 44
    Maybe they need to focus on what it is, a speaker or a device with Siri. Both aren't that great atm.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 29 of 44
    citpekscitpeks Posts: 247member
    Apple needs to get its house in order, so to speak, pursue a cohesive home automation strategy, and improve Siri.

    Who wouldn't welcome doorbells, security cams, speakers, or other IoT products from a company with a privacy-minded bent, and done with the polish one expects (or at least used to) from Apple?

    They could all connect with a "Super AppleTV" that serves as a hub, tied to iCloud services on the back end.  Multiple units could even serve as a mesh.

    Apple had the leads with Siri and HomeKit, but has squandered them.  Siri hasn't gotten much smarter, and HomeKit was too complicated to implement, ceding the home space to Google and Amazon. which are both happy to data mine their users.

    Re-hiring a guy to fix only the speakers reflects a distinct lack of vision the company has in this segment.
    elijahgwilliamlondonmichael frankscgWerks
  • Reply 30 of 44
    I bought a pair of HP minis and have been relatively underwhelmed by the whole experience. The sound is okay when the speakers are used as a pair but is really nothing to write home about. The sound fills the relatively large space well, but the sound quality is at best mid-fi. (I take it for what it is given the price.)

    But I really find AirPlay a three-quarters-baked technology. I haven't found a way to set my iPhone to play music to the HP minis via AirPlay as a default; I'm not saying that it's something that covers every use case scenario, but it seems to me to be something fundamental that people should be able to do. I've not once been able to successfully select AirPlay via the Control Centre, either while music is playing or before it begins. I have to go into the Music app and choose AirPlay, which is clumsy to say the least. Switching between AirPlay targets (HP minis and a last-generation AppleTV 4K) is a crapshoot and generally doesn't work.

    And I feel the same about Siri as many others -- it seems so limited and inaccurate that it's just not worth adopting as a default interface.

    The whole system would be fantastic if it worked reliably. It feels like magic when it does, but I have no confidence that it will always work if I go beyond going into the Music app and connecting to an AirPlay source.
    elijahgwilliamlondondewme
  • Reply 31 of 44
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,781member
    citpeks said:
    Re-hiring a guy to fix only the speakers reflects a distinct lack of vision the company has in this segment.
    Agreed with the rest of your post, but I'd remove the "in this segment" qualifier. Apple's not got vision right now. There is only one coherent strategy across most of their products, that is don't do anything unless it results in more profit - except AppleTV+. Too many people (probably rightly) think Apple is greedy, but I digress.

    Homekit and AppleTV(+) seem especially lacking in vision. The Mac too until the M1 transition, it waned between 2015 and 2020 until the M1 brought it into focus.

    Homekit is just not very good. It's unreliable with relatively few third party devices that support it, and has nowhere near the power of Amazon home - plus needs expensive HomePods to control with your voice. It's really disappointing that Apple is dropping the ball on Homekit - missing the boat like they did with the HP.

    What is AppleTV+ for? To sell expensive AppleTV boxes? That can't be it because AppleTV+ is on competitors boxes. Profit? Can't be, they're spending billions and subscriber numbers aren't too special. It can only be an attempt at a legacy for Cook, something he can claim as his own, that Jobs had no part in at all.

    Apple needs a VP who can focus the company and bring together a coherent strategy, Jobs was that person before but Cook is far from up to that task, he's a beancounter, his only focus is profit.
    edited October 2021
  • Reply 32 of 44
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    macxpress said:
    IMO, I think it was silly to drop the HomePod and just focus on the $50 speaker market with a $99 speaker. Why can't Apple do both? The regular HomePod was just way too expensive. I own 2 and I only purchased them because I got them on sale for $199 both times. I think they work great, but they're just too expensive. Apple can't always get away with its pricing schemes in every market they try to enter. 
    The Homepod wasn’t too expensive, it was marketed wrong.

    As a single speaker for Siri, etc. the HomePod is total overkill, the HomePod mini is ideal for that.
    The HomePod should have been predominantly or even exclusively been marketed as STEREO PAIR, in a set of two speakers.
    Given the quality of its sound relative to its size, it was a BARGAIN compared two twp equivalent active speakers or two bookshelf speakers with a power amplifier. And neither of these two options would have had Siri, HomeKit support, or AirPlay.
    Heck, even selling sets with two HomePods and an AppleTV 4K would have made sense.

    I use a video projector, aTV and two HomwPods: one of the best and easiest to set up Hometheater combinations money can buy for that money.

    Apple doesn’t need a new software engineer for HomePod, they need a new marketing team; one that actually understands home entertainment, rather than computers.
    dewme
  • Reply 33 of 44
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    cgWerks said:
    It has to either be smart, or sound good.
    And, if it is in that 'sound good' category (like discontinued HopePod) then it needs an audio input so it isn't a one-string-banjo.
    I'm not sure why Apple is having such a hard time with this.
    Yup; thankfully *I* can do everything with AirPlay; but just the ability to also use it as a bluetooth speaker outside the Apple ecosystem, would have gone a long way…
    …an actual speaker input, such as to be able to use it as an active speaker, would have helped, too.

    The biggest issue is, that for a mono speaker it’s overkill: if you want quality, you want stereo or surround. As such, they should have predominantly been marketed and sold as stereo pairs, with singles being the exception, not the norm.
    williamlondonelijahg
  • Reply 34 of 44
    lukeilukei Posts: 381member
    Just fix siri make her the best smart assistant drives me nuts when she cant do what alexa can 
    but the speaker is great product  many of my work colleagues are impressed with the quality of the product but siri lets it down 
    This

    The problem with HomePod is Siri and those problems run across the entire Apple product range. I have turned it off on all devices except my Watch
    williamlondonelijahg
  • Reply 35 of 44
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,932member
    dewme said:
    To judge the success or failure of the HomePod we'd have to know what Apple’s intentions were/are with HomePod. Is the HomePod part of Apple's music focus or is HomePod part of Apple’s home automation focus? It can’t really be optimized for both, not in my opinion. It’s far too good as a high fidelity speaker, and too expensive, to simply be relegated to the same role that an Amazon Echo Dot serves. It's far too limited as a voice assistant to shine as an automation appliance. 

    So where does the HomePod really shine? If we look at Apple’s response to the original HomePod and the subsequent HomePod mini as an indicator, the big HomePod never truly found its home and the HomePod mini is a definite pivot towards the automation (HomeKit) segment. I say “never found its home” because Apple could have gone full-on attack after Sonos and other HiFi smart speakers with the original HomePod but instead bowed out of the market.

    Amazon doesn’t try to do too many things with any single version of its Echo speakers. The Dot is obviously an automation-forward offering and a no-brainer purchase for anyone who’s in the Amazon ecosystem and wants to add a little smarts to their life. Amazon could sell these things at the checkout aisle in grocery stores. But the Dot isn’t a music lover’s delight, but nobody cares. The larger Echos definitely sound much better with the Studio being within sniffing distance of the HomePod, at nearly half the price. The large Studio is probably going to get parked in a location where playing music (and radio and podcasts) is its primary function. 

    Truth be told, we really don’t know why Apple discontinued the HomePod and where they intend to go in this product category. We only have two data points, the original HomePod and the HomePod mini. These may be Apple dipping it’s toe in the water and their next move will set the tone for where they intend to go in this market. Or these two products may be the beginning and the end of Apple’s foray into smart speakers.
    Spot on. It reflected a scattered, unfocused strategy on Apple's part, not dissimilar to its approach to AppleTV (and it shows). 

    Moreover, the fact that it can't even be used with a typical TV set -- pointing out which fact invited a lot of childish wrath in these forums -- made it useless for most people. Essentially, made it a niche product. I expect that Apple will kill it off one of these days. 
    Nah. You just don’t understand the product - Apple has never indicated it’s interest in selling general home audio equipment. The HP is clearly narrow cast, designed for the wall garden of the Apple ecosystem. Much like how the Watch requires an iPhone. Could they have built one independent? Sure. Is that their focus? Nope. 

    ATV is hardly lacking in focus. In fact many argue it’s too focused, because it hasn’t changed much over the years. Doesn’t bother me at all tho, I’m 100% in the ecosystem, the ATV is the only way we watch our television set (except occasional football OTA). ATV is great for this. It makes the built in software on our “smart” TVs look & feel like dog shit, which it is. 
    williamlondondewmeJaphey
  • Reply 36 of 44

    ATV is hardly lacking in focus. In fact many argue it’s too focused, because it hasn’t changed much over the years. 
    That is the funniest thing I've read in AI in years
    williamlondonelijahgmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 37 of 44
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,770member

    ATV is hardly lacking in focus. In fact many argue it’s too focused, because it hasn’t changed much over the years. 
    That is the funniest thing I've read in AI in years
    Care to explain what is so funny about it? Or why you disagree? It seems like a pretty reasonable and accurate way to describe the glacial pace at which the ATV has evolved over the years. 
  • Reply 38 of 44
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,952member
    Anilu_777 said:
    I love both my OG HomePod and my HomePod Minis. I do notice better connectivity with the Minis due to the W1 chip. I wish Apple would upgrade the OG. The sound can’t be beat! Just market it as a speaker. 
    Needed an audio input. I'd have bought 2 if it had.

    decoderring said:
    The whole system would be fantastic if it worked reliably. It feels like magic when it does, but I have no confidence that it will always work if I go beyond going into the Music app and connecting to an AirPlay source.
    And, that's probably the core of the problem. With Apple's new service focus, that might be all they care about.

    elijahg said:
    What is AppleTV+ for? To sell expensive AppleTV boxes? That can't be it because AppleTV+ is on competitors boxes. Profit? Can't be, they're spending billions and subscriber numbers aren't too special. It can only be an attempt at a legacy for Cook, something he can claim as his own, that Jobs had no part in at all.
    Nah, I think this falls under the 'big company = stupid' category. They departmentalize. Things start to compete as profit centers. Apple sees other big players doing TV streaming services, and they need to jump in too (especially given the rise in importance of the Services department). They are doing the same in podcasting. They see Spotify doing something stupid, so they have to follow suit. IMO, Services will be the division that ruins Apple if that happens. (They won't be going out of business any time soon, but many companies that are still big and powerful are effectively ruined.)

    rcfa said:
    Yup; thankfully *I* can do everything with AirPlay; but just the ability to also use it as a bluetooth speaker outside the Apple ecosystem, would have gone a long way…
    …an actual speaker input, such as to be able to use it as an active speaker, would have helped, too.
    To be fair, I'm probably the odd-ball these days, as I suppose most people are just using the various streaming services that work fine with HomePods (if they are even projecting sound into the room anymore at all... ie. not an iPad/iPhone with earbuds). For streaming stuff where it can time-sync the audio properly, I suppose it is fine. But, I need my home audio speakers to do other things as well. Like, for example, what does someone do if they have a gaming console? Or, a separate BluRay player? (And that's relatively common stuff. I used to a MythTV 'DVR' I ran through the entertainment center, or would sometimes hook up the keyboard/synth or guitar effects box, etc. I suppose only a millionth of a percent of people do anything like that anymore, though.)

    StrangeDays said:
    ATV is great for this. It makes the built in software on our “smart” TVs look & feel like dog shit, which it is. 
    I agree there. Never, ever use any of the built-in 'smart TV' stuff.
    But, we use our PS4 for this, which aside from power-draw, it is even better at because Sony actually thought out what such a system should do (ex: send audio to each of the connected controllers so, say 2 people can be watching a show with headphones, while another is undisturbed).
  • Reply 39 of 44
    cgWerks said:
    But, I need my home audio speakers to do other things as well. Like, for example, what does someone do if they have a gaming console? Or, a separate BluRay player? (And that's relatively common stuff. I used to a MythTV 'DVR' I ran through the entertainment center, or would sometimes hook up the keyboard/synth or guitar effects box, etc. I suppose only a millionth of a percent of people do anything like that anymore, though.)
    Just want to chime in on this one, that's exactly what put me off swapping out my 5.1 legacy speaker system, tuner/amp setup with HPs. What does one do with the other devices that are connected to your TV that don't go through the ATV, like games consoles, etc?

    This is where the HPs were too ahead of the times for the vast majority of people, and they didn't support this really cool functionality until recently. You'll need the newer TVs that support eARC, no idea when they started supporting or how many TVs today support this, but it made all the difference. No more tuners or amps needed, no additional audio equipment, just HPs, an ATV and a newer TV with eARC capability.

    The Nintendo Switch hooked up to my TV now plays audio (passthrough) through the HPs, anything that plays on such a TV will send its audio to the ATV and then on to the HPs.

    It's all pretty slick, and there are no miles of wires or cables running around the living room, or excess audio equipment making a mess of your tv cabinet with that typical mess we all suffer behind/under the media cabinet. All in all a very clean setup, very Apple.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 40 of 44
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,485member
    cgWerks said:
    But, I need my home audio speakers to do other things as well. Like, for example, what does someone do if they have a gaming console? Or, a separate BluRay player? (And that's relatively common stuff. I used to a MythTV 'DVR' I ran through the entertainment center, or would sometimes hook up the keyboard/synth or guitar effects box, etc. I suppose only a millionth of a percent of people do anything like that anymore, though.)
    Just want to chime in on this one, that's exactly what put me off swapping out my 5.1 legacy speaker system, tuner/amp setup with HPs. What does one do with the other devices that are connected to your TV that don't go through the ATV, like games consoles, etc?

    This is where the HPs were too ahead of the times for the vast majority of people, and they didn't support this really cool functionality until recently. You'll need the newer TVs that support eARC, no idea when they started supporting or how many TVs today support this, but it made all the difference. No more tuners or amps needed, no additional audio equipment, just HPs, an ATV and a newer TV with eARC capability.

    The Nintendo Switch hooked up to my TV now plays audio (passthrough) through the HPs, anything that plays on such a TV will send its audio to the ATV and then on to the HPs.

    It's all pretty slick, and there are no miles of wires or cables running around the living room, or excess audio equipment making a mess of your tv cabinet with that typical mess we all suffer behind/under the media cabinet. All in all a very clean setup, very Apple.
    Good post. Just a reminder that you’ll need an Apple TV 4K 2nd Generation to work with HDMI eARC.

    FWIW, you can do most of these things with a sound bar that supports eARC.
    edited October 2021 williamlondon
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