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Apple has hired a new software lead for the HomePod team as part of an effort to better compete with smart home speakers from Amazon and Google, reports Bloomberg.

syng-cell-alpha-table-feature.jpg
The Syng Cell Alpha​

Afrooz Family, an audio engineer who worked at Apple from 2012 to 2016, has rejoined the company and is leading software development on the HomePod/Apple TV team. Family co-founded speaker company Syng alongside former Apple design team member Christoper Stringer. Syng is known for the super expensive Cell Alpha, which boasts "triphonic" audio technology that's able to create an immersive, dynamic sound field.

Apple has struggled to get the HomePod to catch on since its launch in 2018. The initial version of the speaker was priced at $350 and boasted higher-quality audio than competitors, but it was just not as popular as much more affordable smart speaker options from Samsung and Google.

The original HomePod was discontinued earlier this year with Apple instead opting to focus on the $99 HomePod mini, which is smaller and much more appealing due to its lower price tag.

Going forward, Apple plans to create a combined HomePod, Apple TV, and FaceTime device that will serve as an all-in-one entertainment option. According to Bloomberg, such a device could be released as early as 2023.

Article Link: Apple Aims to Boost HomePod Sales With New Audio Software Lead
 
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Think|Different

macrumors regular
Apr 2, 2021
169
1,350
Boost HomePod sales? There's literally only one product – the Mini – which is not for everyone. And its tech, etc, is already getting dated. But I assume this guy and the team are planning bigger, better, and more products. I love all of our Homepods -- which work really well on a solid wifi network. I won't buy any more Minis or aftermarket regular size, though, at this point and will def wait to see what is next.
 

Orange Bat

macrumors 6502
Mar 21, 2021
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I still think Apple may want to bring back a high quality HomePod at some point, and this news might confirm my suspicion. The fact that the mini is still the MINI and not the HomePod means that they still might have plans for the bigger speaker. Apple knows that they need a cheaper speaker to compete with the Echo Studio. I think it’s still possible, but Siri still needs a lot of work.

What Apple really needs is a combined Apple TV with Soundbar for around $250. That would be a huge hit for Apple, and would get more people using Apple TV.
 

jmcgeejr

macrumors 6502
Oct 7, 2010
467
40
Seattle, WA
I would 100% still be using my echo's around the house if the apple music integration on it was better. We switch from amazon music to apple beacuse amazon kept losing access to music that you would add to your account. The apple music integration apparently doesnt understand that when you say play my music, it means I want to hear more than roughly the same 40 songs over and over, even when stating to shuffle. Audio quality on the homepod mini's are so inferior to amazon echos.
 
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steevn

macrumors regular
Jul 25, 2016
220
605
The HomePods are honestly a pretty great setup with the original and mini and will be hard to make better. The issue was/is the insane price they asked for the original and the Mini needs to be more like $60.

Fwiw I have some Minis now and would actually buy the original size if it still existed. The ability to setup as main speakers to Apple TV works perfect for what I wanted.
 

jmcgeejr

macrumors 6502
Oct 7, 2010
467
40
Seattle, WA
The HomePods are honestly a pretty great setup with the original and mini and will be hard to make better. The issue was/is the insane price they asked for the original and the Mini needs to be more like $60.

Fwiw I have some Minis now and would actually buy the original size if it still existed. The ability to setup as main speakers to Apple TV works perfect for what I wanted.
Ditto I would too, the audio quality on the minis are just not great IMHO.
 

PinkyMacGodess

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Mar 7, 2007
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Midwest America.
I'm sorry but I disagree, my echo's have way better sound from them than my homepod mini ever has.

But that's the mini. The original, the behemoth, the price leader, the sound was/IS... AMAZING!!! But Apple probably realized that they had over-designed the thing, and couldn't get it to work cordless, and just dropped it. It's sad... The first music I heard on the larger HomePod brought tears to my eyes. So amazing...
 
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nitramluap

macrumors 6502
Apr 26, 2015
438
977
I still use an Airport Express linked to my large speakers for playing music. The HomePod mini is simply a control device for me. I love Apple, but I don't want *every* device I use to be made by them...
 
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jmcgeejr

macrumors 6502
Oct 7, 2010
467
40
Seattle, WA
Yeah they need to fix the voice detection, whenever we have personalized requests turned on it will randomly think that my wife is me and play my music vs playing hers. only way it ever works right is to turn that off and set her homepod's to her account by default and then same with mine. Which is a pain in the kitchen if I want to listen to music when she's not listening.
 

Orange Bat

macrumors 6502
Mar 21, 2021
264
644
The HomePods are honestly a pretty great setup with the original and mini and will be hard to make better. The issue was/is the insane price they asked for the original and the Mini needs to be more like $60.

Fwiw I have some Minis now and would actually buy the original size if it still existed. The ability to setup as main speakers to Apple TV works perfect for what I wanted.
At $80 or less, the mini starts to become a no-brainer. The Echo Dots succeeded because they were insanely cheap. Regular Echos are the same as the Minis at $99. Apple should have really considered the Echo line-up in coming up with smart speakers. Think about a mini at around $80, a HomePod Air at $150, and the HomePod at $220-$250. That’s competitive and makes it more difficult for what to buy. Do you get the Echo at $100 or the Mini at $80? Or do you go $70 more and get the nicer HomePod?
 

vipergts2207

macrumors 68030
Apr 7, 2009
2,991
6,006
Columbus, OH
I love my HomePod. It would have sold better if people cared about sound quality and not being data-raped by competing products.
I think that you've got it a bit backwards. People that care about sound quality weren't interested. I have no doubt the HomePod sounded good for what it was, but it doesn't compare to the sound systems of people who are concerned about audio quality. The price of a pair of stereo HomePods is about the price of someone's low to mid-tier A/V receiver alone, never mind the potential thousands on speakers. Where would a HomePod fit in for someone with a 5.2.4 Atmos setup in the living room? The bedroom or kitchen I guess? But for many people that's a lot of money for a speaker that will be used so infrequently. And personally, I've already got a set of bookshelves connected to the TV in the bedroom.

Unfortunately based on its discontinuation, the HomePod didn't have much of a market. Too expensive for the average Joe who just wants a speaker and not good enough for folks with audio systems costing thousands of dollars. There was a distinct lack of versatility as well. No Bluetooth compatibility and no way to input audio from other sources like gaming consoles and cable boxes. Personally I'd like to see Apple come out with a HomePod mini with a rechargeable battery in it.

I still think Apple may want to bring back a high quality HomePod at some point, and this news might confirm my suspicion. The fact that the mini is still the MINI and not the HomePod means that they still might have plans for the bigger speaker. Apple knows that they need a cheaper speaker to compete with the Echo Studio. I think it’s still possible, but Siri still needs a lot of work.

What Apple really needs is a combined Apple TV with Soundbar for around $250. That would be a huge hit for Apple, and would get more people using Apple TV.
Considering that the ATV is $180 and the HomePod was $300, I think it's extremely unlikely to think such a device would sell for $250. Try double that. At least.
 

LarrySW

macrumors 65816
Sep 29, 2016
1,357
3,083
How's that pounding bass from those two mini's? Yeah, sounds like a good transistor radio. No thanks. C'mon Apple, create a great sounding speaker that actually does things. Quit trying to compete with the bottom of the barrel competition.
Good enough for me when I’m watching tv. But I’m not an elitist when it comes to sound so I’m sure it’s not amazing to those who care.
 
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