I’ve seen an interesting combination of concern, complaints, dismissiveness, and derision over the HomePod across Twitter, Apple blogs, and tech sites over the past few days. The preorder and announcement of the final release date for the device, as well as a lack of any other substantive Apple news at the moment seem to have stoked the fires of discussion and opinion.
I can understand many of the reasons, and I even agree with many of you that Siri isn’t on par with other digital assistants in many ways, that the HomePod’s high price could be a limiting factor, and that it is showing up more than fashionably late to a fast-moving party. However, despite the concerns and complaints, the reasons behind the design and focus of the HomePod still make sense if you look at Apple’s recent hardware and software efforts.
If you haven’t heard by now, Apple has pushed the release of the HomePod from the more advantageous Holiday sales season to sometime in early 2018. I can’t say this comes as a massive surprise, because there has been very little news on the device over the last month. Part of that is because of the massive wave of interest in the new iPhone X, but if it had been coming out in December, we would have seen some leaks by now. This is definitely unfortunate for Apple, as they will certainly lose potential sales in a market where they are already later to arrive than usual. However, the why is more interesting than the what in this situation.
Before diving into the details, I will say right off the bat that Apple Music streaming on the new LTE-enabled version of the Apple Watch Series 3 works. The music sounded the same over my AirPods that it would if I were using my iPhone or iPad, which is good. Searches with Siri were performed quickly. I never had any issues with tracks skipping, even though I only had two “dots” of LTE where I was doing my testing. So functionally, it works fine and is a welcome addition to the Apple Watch. Also, it’s good to keep in mind that this feature is still in beta, so things could change a little here or there before full release.
However, when I also say that streaming Apple Music on the Watch is a mixed bag right now, I’m not kidding around. It is functional in the way that the original Apple Watch was- useful and novel, but also scattered and confusing at times. The interface and experience are spread out over two different apps, a leftover from watchOS 1, and Siri. At the end of the day, I am glad to have it, since it extends the Watch beyond the bounds of the old iPad Nano and Shuffle as a mobile music player. However, Apple Music integration doesn’t come without its share of growing pains.
Like all of the other early risers who wanted to be sure to get their Apple Watch Series 3 orders in, I got my Apple Watches today. I got both the Black Sport with the new Sport Loop band, and the Gold Sport with the Pink Sand Sport Band. I actually meant to order the Gold model with its corresponding Sport Loop, but I think I got a little punchy and mixed up at 2:05 AM. Oops.
As all Apple fans know by now, someone at Apple dropped the ball. An early firmware for the HomePod leaked after being uploaded to an Apple software server, and it has shed light on all kinds of things. Beyond some details on its namesake, we now have what looks to be confirmation of the shape and basic design of the iPhone 8, news LTE on an upcoming Apple Watch, and even details about an upgrade to the Apple TV. And this is only a small part of the news for the last week or so, so let’s dive right in.
It’s been coming for the last ten years since the original iPhone hit the streets, but today was finally the day: the non-iOS iPod is no more. Apple has now completely cannibalized its original hit product. All that remains of the venerable old lineup is the iPod Touch, but for the first time since 2001, there is no longer a model available running the old Pixo OS.
Whew. We had WWDC three weeks ago, right into new iPads and the iOS 11 Developer Beta, and now the Public Beta yesterday with more news still coming fast. With lots of changes to to iOS 11 still to come and the new iPhone still on deck, there will still plenty more to last until the Fall, as well. Let’s get right into some of the notable news from the last week or two.
This has been building since Apple’s acquisition of Beats in 2014, but after WWDC, I think things are starting to come into clearer focus. Apple is now transitioning from dominating the declining business of purchasing music to dominating multiple areas in the field. But it goes deeper than that. They are building toward something. I think they are currently moving their chess pieces across the board to set up a final checkmate on the big-label recording industry, which will in turn, squeeze competitors like Spotify in ways they will have difficulty combating.
I have to say, Iâ€™m really enjoying Apple Music this second time around. I find its UI much faster to use overall. What used to feel like navigating a labyrinth of music now just feels like managing a library of music â€” which is as it should be.
Iâ€™ve been using Apple Music for the past month or two, and I think Iâ€™ll stick with the service for the foreseeable future. One of the major reasons I liked Spotify so much was that it made it fun and easy to discover new music, but now that Apple Music shows related music under each song, I find myself adding several tracks per week to my library. Iâ€™ve also set both my iPhone and iPad to automatically download any new songs added to my library, so it really does feel seamless when I get home. I can put down the iPhone and start playing those new tracks from the iPad, without even having to stream anything (since the songs were already downloaded to the device in the background).