Video: Wishlist of features and fixes Apple could give the HomePod during WWDC 2018

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2018
The HomePod shows considerable promise, but even at launch, Apple's smart speaker didn't include all of the features that could help it defeat all of its competitors. AppleInsider writes up a wishlist of things Apple could change to make the HomePod even better.





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

To be clear, we aren't talking about a whole second-generation HomePod. This is all about improvements to audioOS, the operating system Apple created for the smart speaker.

HomePod


WWDC, Apple's developer conference where it reveals future updates for all of its major operating systems, is taking place next month. As this will mark the first time the HomePod will feature in WWDC after launch, after its introduction last year, it is unclear what, if anything, Apple will say about the device.

If Apple does decide to announce updates for audioOS, here is what we hope to see.

More Streaming Options

Currently, HomePod will gladly let you stream Apple Music or your iTunes Match library with ease, but if you want to listen to Spotify or another service, your only option is to use AirPlay.

We'd like to be able to ask Siri to turn into iHeartRadio, or pick up where we left off in our latest audiobook, or even to incorporate other third-party streaming services at all, with the HomePod itself doing the hard work of fetching the content.

Without Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable, streaming support for other services is even more important for smart speakers like the HomePod.

HomePod Siri Alexa Amazon Echo Google Home Assistant

Smarter Siri

We have a lot of issues with Apple's virtual assistant on the HomePod. We have previously outlined many of its shortcomings, but as it pertains to the HomePod, there are a number specific areas that really need to be improved.

For example, Siri on HomePod shockingly can't set multiple timers, nor can it make a phone call, or even look up a recipe. With general use problems like these and others, this implementation of Siri means the HomePod really can't compete with the skills and abilities found in Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant.

HomePod

Audio Adjustments

Aside from manually adjusting the EQ in the settings on your phone for AirPlay, HomePod desperately needs its own user-configurable settings. Other audio hardware, like the Zipp speaker we just reviewed, have different audio profiles which would also be acceptable if adapted for HomePod.

HomePod does attempt to make adjustments to audio on the fly, but it is not nearly sufficient enough for all situations. For example, the bass seems to be far too heavy on HomePod while listening to audiobooks or watching movies.

Apple's own short-lived iPod Hi-Fi offered the ability to adjust the EQ levels, and they can also be manually fine tuned in iTunes then streamed to the HomePod, but it would be preferable to have device-specific controls rather than relying on pushing pre-adjusted content. In theory, this shouldn't be a difficult task.

HomePod

Multi-user Support

Adding the ability to support multiple users will probably require a lot of changes to both Siri and the HomePod's software, but it would be a plausible feature to include in a future update.

When someone asks Siri to play one of their playlists, HomePod should know which user is asking, and play their particular playlist. This could be the same for adding a reminder, reading a message, or liking a song, with requests based on the recognized user, rather than all changes affecting one single user.

HomePod owners are currently forced to disable personalization for Apple Music, or risk having other users muddying up their recommendations and preferences. Despite its usefulness, this isn't the most user-friendly thing we came up with for this list.

HomePod Apple TV

Device Integration

Apple excels when it comes to integrating their products, which is why many users choose Apple over its competitors. HomePod can be used as an AirPlay speaker for the Apple TV and ultimately two of them can be used for stereo separation to improve a user's home cinema setup, but that is where the partnership ends.

We want to be able to ask Siri to play or pause the Apple TV or even play a specific movie or TV show, essentially acting as a hands-free voice-based remote control. HomePod could also be used to perform other actions with the Apple TV, such as opening apps or opening a live view of a HomeKit camera.

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

HomePod


HomePod has much to improve on before it is as robust as Apple's other platforms. Apple baked an A8 processor into the speaker, so it should definitely be powerful enough to meet most of our requests.

We admittedly have lofty expectations, but here's hoping that Apple surprises us with audioOS as the fifth operating system to receive a major update this year at WWDC 18.
Alex1N
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Apple's genius is knowing which features NOT to include. Elegant simplicity has always been a major strength for their products.
    leptonwilliamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 2 of 39
    George657George657 Posts: 3member
    Stereo, Stereo ... Stereo ! !!
    rapcatmeow
  • Reply 3 of 39
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,302member
    nunzy said:
    Apple's genius is knowing which features NOT to include. Elegant simplicity has always been a major strength for their products.
    So then you don't think they'll add any of this?
    edited May 2018 irelandAlex1N
  • Reply 4 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,426member
    Loving the audio quality, the punchy bass and clear treble with zero distortion. Would I like all that's mentioned here? Absolutely. Would I buy one (having heard it) even if there was no Siri? Damn right I would.
    StrangeDaysequality72521Alex1N
  • Reply 5 of 39
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 888member
    ... as they say at the beginning 'without bluetooth or aux in ...' I'd like to see those most basic things - like everything else can Apple serve the darn customer first, not the Apple ecosystem lock in...

    Jobs seemed to manage both, yet has the current management forgotten this in favour of shareholder interests and old school business ethos...?

    Would customers benefit from an Apple (or certain senior Apple policy makers) pentalobotomy...?

    ...and as they say some manual (user again) controls, and less privacy risk without Siri (although auto audio EQ is intriguing, with an off switch) or all roads leading to Apple's servers, perhaps at a lower price ?

    Are we at risk of one good hack, a slip or EULA change or a Patriot Act override enabling a Panopticon surveillance state potential...?

    edited May 2018
  • Reply 6 of 39
    leptonlepton Posts: 111member
    I would like a feature we've seen elsewhere - the ability to give a subsequent command for a few seconds without having to say Hey Siri again. 
    crabbyireland
  • Reply 7 of 39
    crossladcrosslad Posts: 526member
    I can’t understand why you want to get recipes on a device that doesn’t have a screen. Likewise what good are travel directions on a device that doesn’t leave your home. 
    edited May 2018 StrangeDaysequality72521macxpressAlex1N
  • Reply 8 of 39
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    gatorguy said:
    nunzy said:
    Apple's genius is knowing which features NOT to include. Elegant simplicity has always been a major strength for their products.
    So then you don't think they'll add any of this?
    All I know is that Apple will never sacrifice simplicity for features.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,517member
    Trying to add items to a shopping list has become a running joke in our house. When I use the same command: “Hey Siri, add Cornflakes to the shopping list” I get the following responses randomly. 1) “Okay, I’ve added Cornflakes to the shopping list.” 2) Sorry, I’d like to, but Notes hasn’t been set up for that yet.” When I first got the device I asked it create a shopping list, and it did, using the Reminders app. When it does work, it adds things to the Reminders Shopping List which is fine. But why she persists it getting confused about Notes is beyond me. 
    edited May 2018 patchythepirateirelandAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 39
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,302member
    nunzy said:
    gatorguy said:
    nunzy said:
    Apple's genius is knowing which features NOT to include. Elegant simplicity has always been a major strength for their products.
    So then you don't think they'll add any of this?
    All I know is that Apple will never sacrifice simplicity for features.
    Perfect non-answer. :)
    lorin schultzirelandAlex1N
  • Reply 11 of 39
    rapcatmeowrapcatmeow Posts: 30member
    I just wish they would add the features they announced last WWDC. Airplay 2, stereo pairing, and didn’t they have a graphic showing more than 2 Homepods doing a sort of surround sound thing? 
  • Reply 12 of 39
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 868member
    George657 said:
    Stereo, Stereo ... Stereo ! !!
    Is it supposed to come with 11.4?

    I want automatic connect function that let you set a main device & HomePod will always be connected to this one. Says you set Apple TV as your main device, every time you play something on it the sound will come from HomePod unless you specifically tell it otherwise. You can AirPlay from other devices as usual of course but once you finish it it will revert back to that main device. 
    edited May 2018 rapcatmeowfreethinking
  • Reply 13 of 39
    crosslad said:
    I can’t understand why you want to get recipes on a device that doesn’t have a screen. Likewise what good are travel directions on a device that doesn’t leave your home. 
    For some simple recipes it's handy - cocktails or in my case, bread recipes i make often but forget the quantities. I usually just need the ingredient list. But an improvement would be the ability to tell your assistant to show it on, eg a phone or tv if you've lost track of things
    Alex1N
  • Reply 14 of 39
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,302member
    crosslad said:
    I can’t understand why you want to get recipes on a device that doesn’t have a screen. Likewise what good are travel directions on a device that doesn’t leave your home. 
    At least on Assistant it will stop at each step allowing you to finish one before going to the next as you request it. You can also ask Assistant to repeat a step if/when you miss it. In reality it's not all that difficult to follow along and does help keep the batter off the cookbook altho I kinda like the well-worn look of ours. 
    :)
  • Reply 15 of 39
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 566member
    One thing that is fantastic about HomePod: I started listening to a lot more different music. For example, I try new genres. Sure that was possible before with AppleMusic. But there is a difference by simply saying 'Play some Jazz' or searching for good Jazz, something I have no clue about, or doing some other multiple taps on some iDevice. Now it is just: 'Play some Jazz', 'Play some Lounge Music', 'Play some Rock, Saturday Night, Sunday morning' etc. etc. – which is just great. And the music never stops. Although, there is sometimes too much repetition when you say the same a couple times per week. Something Apple definitely needs to change.
    equality72521
  • Reply 16 of 39
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,656member
    It sounds like the first release is "nothing to write homepod about." But while I'm at it here're a few positive puns Apple could use for their ads: "Home Sweet Homepod," "Come in and make yourself at Homepod," "Homepod is where the heart is," "Make yourself at Homepod," "There's no place like HomePod."
  • Reply 17 of 39
    robbyxrobbyx Posts: 479member
    I returned mine. I think the people raving about sound quality have never heard good speakers. HomePod is ok, but can’t compare to my Sonos Play5, much less my built-in Sonance speakers. The bass is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter what you’re listening to. Everything is thump thump thump.  I didn’t care for the way HomePod processed audio either. Sure, compared to a low end Bluetooth speaker that muddies everything, HomePod sounds good.  But HomePod overcompensates and there’s often too much separation, especially with vocals, and the mix doesn’t sound cohesive.

    With all the ranting and raving about sound quality, I expected to be blown away. After using HomePod for a few days, I was totally underwhelmed. I did like the way Siri works with Apple Music, though. They did a good job there. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 39
    robbyx said:
    I returned mine. I think the people raving about sound quality have never heard good speakers. HomePod is ok, but can’t compare to my Sonos Play5, much less my built-in Sonance speakers. ...



    Sound quality is highly subjective. If all you have are Sonance and Sonos speakers I'm not convinced you've necessarily heard good speakers either. It sounds like you're just saying the HomePod doesn't sound like what you're used to. That's certainly a fair assessment. HomePod is going to sound great to people used to cheap stuff, not sound as good to people used to really expensive stuff, and for those in the middle it will be a coin toss. 

    I definitely like mine, and almost certainly will buy another, maybe two. Maybe three. It depends on how well AirPlay2 works. I've been waffling between buying one really good audio system (I'm eyeing spatial audio M4's), or a house full of wireless speakers. Lately I've been enjoying the sheer simplicity and convenience of the HomePod more than I've enjoyed my existing audio system. I listen to music much more now that I did before buying the HomePod.



    StrangeDaysequality72521Alex1N
  • Reply 19 of 39
    robbyxrobbyx Posts: 479member
    robbyx said:
    I returned mine. I think the people raving about sound quality have never heard good speakers. HomePod is ok, but can’t compare to my Sonos Play5, much less my built-in Sonance speakers. ...



    Sound quality is highly subjective. If all you have are Sonance and Sonos speakers I'm not convinced you've necessarily heard good speakers either. It sounds like you're just saying the HomePod doesn't sound like what you're used to. That's certainly a fair assessment. HomePod is going to sound great to people used to cheap stuff, not sound as good to people used to really expensive stuff, and for those in the middle it will be a coin toss. 

    I definitely like mine, and almost certainly will buy another, maybe two. Maybe three. It depends on how well AirPlay2 works. I've been waffling between buying one really good audio system (I'm eyeing spatial audio M4's), or a house full of wireless speakers. Lately I've been enjoying the sheer simplicity and convenience of the HomePod more than I've enjoyed my existing audio system. I listen to music much more now that I did before buying the HomePod.



    If you think HomePod compares to Sonance, I’d say you’re the one who has no idea how good speakers sound.  As for Sonos, sure, they’re not high end and I haven’t compared HomePod to anything but my Play5, but to my ears Play5 produces a much more pleasant and balanced sound than the thump thump thump of HomePod with vocals floating so far above the mix that they sound disembodied.  I was interested in the convenience/simplicity of HomePod too but the sound quality just isn’t up to snuff. 
    rapcatmeowwilliamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 39
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 868member
    Just listened to 24/96 music through it this morning & it sounds stellar. My wife who used to be a sound producer at sound studio exclaimed “ Wow! That’s quite good” the 1st day when she first heard it (streaming music from Apple Music) & I’m not surprised because it sounds like what I’d expect when I’m mixing sound. I personally think speaker this small & at this price can sound like this is a miracle but hey sound is subjective and of course if what you’re listening to hasn’t got good mixing then you wouldn’t get a good sound that’s for sure. 
    HomePod has its flaw but sound quality (or the setup) isn’t one of them in my book.
    edited May 2018 equality72521Alex1N
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