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.
[Update: The HomePod did NOT go on sale at 12 AM PST as most Apple news outlets and I expected, breaking the usual iOS-based device release mold. Apple didn’t shut down the online Apple Store last night and the HomePod still isn’t available for preorder. Apple has not made any official statement, but it has been mentioned by several people on Twitter that Apple does an automatic refresh of their website at 6:01 AM PST every day. It is now expected that the link to preorder the device will show up then, but who knows? It’s also possible that Apple is running a massive social engineering experiment to see how well it has conditioned its fans to get up at odd hours to preorder devices. If so, then based on the number of comments I saw on Twitter early this morning, I say well played, Apple. Well played.]
[Update 2: I was able to order the HomePod with launch day delivery. I’m not sure when exactly it hit the Apple Online Store for preorder, but I know it was before 8 AM CST because I checked while stopped in rush hour traffic on the way to work, and there it was. I completed my order around 8 AM CST, but it was released between 10 to 30 minutes before that I hope Apple avoids being this random with future preorders, but it is what it is.]
HomePod preorders begin in a little over four hours [nope], so if you live in the Eastern or Central Time Zones and are planning to get up super early, it might be a good idea to turn in early, or at least catch a nap if you can [a nap sounds somewhere between good and necessary today]. With this new hardware finally coming into clearer focus, now is a good time to recap some of the additional information that has come to light since the countdown to release started ticking earlier this week.
Time to start up Apple Slices, our series covering some of the wide variety of Apple news of the week, for 2018. We have more on the battery throttling story that just won’t go away, Apple making big commitments here in the US, the coming HomePod, and more. Time to eat!
Last week, there was a report from tech analysts GBH that the HomePod would be released in the next 4 to 6 weeks. While I saw this news as potentially encouraging, I don’t usually jump on board with rumors until more than one source reports the same or similar news. Today we have a little corroboration that lines up with this timeframe
We are halfway through the month of January, so the time for 2018 predictions and resolutions is at an end. This is a grab bag of items I’ve been thinking about that aren’t as critical as what I’ve already covered, but could still be in play over the course of the year.
A couple of weeks ago, I predicted that 2018 will be the Year of Face ID for Apple. Based on the early device rumors of what is coming this year, that looks to be a pretty safe bet. I think it is just as much of a given that 2018 will also be the Year of Siri. It’s about time, as a focus on pushing Siri forward in terms of both features and user satisfaction is already long overdue.
As we close out 2017 and look forward to a new year just a handful of hours ahead, now is a great time to look back at the year that was. This was a VERY busy year for Apple, so rather than a completely exhaustive review, I’m just going to hit a few of the highlights with Apple’s hardware in 2017.
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.
What a week it has been. Apple has definitely made the most of its time in the spotlight, grabbing the media’s attention and showing us that they can still innovate, be aggressive, and even listen to what users are asking for from time to time. While all may not be perfect, and there are still questions to answer, iOS 11 looks REALLY good, and the new iPad Pro features are a huge upgrade. As for the HomePod, let’s reserve judgement until we at lease see it in a closer to final form.
Beyond all the great software and hardware announcements, which I will get into in greater depth soon, there is other Apple news of note to look into. Let’s get to it.
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.