RIP HomePod, Long Live HomePod mini
Four years ago, I reviewed Apple’s original HomePod. I remember loving the sound but being frustrated by the limits, like only being able to play Apple Music. Most of those limits were resolved but the public never took to Apple’s first smart speaker the way they did, say, Amazon’s much more affordable (and less conspicuous) Echo. This is how I summed it up in my original review
Audiophiles may not be able to resist those sweet, sweet sounds, especially those who already pay for Apple Music, but for those with more average ears and smaller bank accounts, there are, for now, better, smarter smart speaker choices.
When Apple released its tiny, $99 HomePod mini
, Apple proved that it could do small, smart, and affordable. It was also a signal that the time for a $300, overweight smart speaker was done. Apple officially canceled the original HomePod over the weekend, basically ceding the large smart speaker market to Google and Amazon.
To be fair, no one is selling a lot of these large smart speakers. The market is in the small, put-them-anywhere in-your homes ones.
The good news for Apple is that the mini is selling in ways the original HomePod never did. Can it catch up with Amazon and Google? Not in the short term but if Apple keeps improving Siri and its smart home automation chops (and maybe develops a $49 HomePod Micro Mini) it might have a chance.
Facebook, Zuck, AR and VR
Is the future of AR unwieldy headsets with palm-sized remote controls or is it far more subtle glasses that hide technology in plain sight?
Apple is reportedly betting on glasses
that are low-key tech connected to the high-power of an iPhone. Facebook, in the meantime, is building a system, called Project Aria
, that combines powerful, but normal-looking AR glasses with a wrist-based gesture control system. Who will win? No one for now as these competing AR ideas are still years away from commercialization.
In case you missed it and are now living an hour behind most of America, Daylight Savings Time kicked off over the weekend, stealing one wonderful hour of sleep from us. That morning, I ran around changing the handful of digital but not internet-connected clocks. I wondered how many other people were doing the same. So, I ran a poll on Twitter. The results were illuminating. Those old-school clocks (mostly ovens, microwaves, and cars) stubbornly remain disconnected from the Internet (almost 7% of my respondents have at least six devices to change!). I suspect that if I ask the same question five years from now most of the responses will be “0.”