Archive for January 18, 2023

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

HomePod (2nd Generation)

Apple (Hacker News, Reddit, 2):

Packed with Apple innovations and Siri intelligence, HomePod offers advanced computational audio for a groundbreaking listening experience, including support for immersive Spatial Audio tracks. With convenient new ways to manage everyday tasks and control the smart home, users can now create smart home automations using Siri, get notified when a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is detected in their home, and check temperature and humidity in a room — all hands-free.


HomePod easily pairs with Apple TV 4K for a powerful home theater experience, and eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) support on Apple TV 4K enables customers to make HomePod the audio system for all devices connected to the TV. Plus, with Siri on HomePod, users can control what’s playing on their Apple TV hands-free.

Joe Rossignol:

The new HomePod is 6.6-inches tall and weighs 5.1 pounds, compared to 6.8-inches and 5.5 pounds for the first-generation model, while both models are 5.6 inches wide. The new HomePod also has two fewer tweeters and microphones compared to the original model. The original HomePod was equipped with the A8 chip from the iPhone 6, while the new model has the S7 chip from the Apple Watch Series 7.

A new sensor in the HomePod can measure temperature and humidity in indoor environments, and this feature is also being enabled on the existing HomePod mini.

I wonder whether this will be able to replace dedicated temperature monitoring solutions such as Wireless Sensor Tags (which have worked well for me but are clunky to set up) and Temp Stick (more expensive than HomePod mini, requires batteries).

The HomePod price is down from $349 to $299. The main issues with the original seem to have been reliability and Siri, and it’s not clear whether those have improved. There’s still no Home Sharing or direct input via Bluetooth audio or a cable.

Joe Rossignol:

The second-generation HomePod introduced today will offer a Sound Recognition feature that allows the speaker to detect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm sounds and send a notification to the user’s iPhone if either of those sounds are identified.


Update (2023-01-18): Daniel Jalkut:

The Apple video for the new HomePod makes it appear as though Siri would respond to you in something less than a full second. Could we be so lucky, or is this just fanciful advertising?

Casey Liss:

How the hell does that work? The TV acts as an eARC receiver, and then rebroadcasts via… AirPlay?… to the HomePod(s)?

Colin Cornaby:

Still grumpy the new HomePod doesn’t have any sort of aux connector.

Peter Steinberger:

Same flakey AirPlay though?

Nick Heer:

Apple announced a new HomePod model today, which it insists on referring to as the “HomePod” instead of a “HomePod Mini Max”. You might think I am being stupid — and I am — but this thing is closer to the Mini on the inside despite looking like the original model on the outside.


Ok now let me attach two more HomePods for a surround experience

Dave B:

The worst part about those watch CPUs is that they haven’t advanced in years.

Update (2023-01-19): Dave Mark:

New Apple video: “Introducing the all-new HomePod

Be aware that you CAN’T pair a new HomePod with an OG HomePod. 😐

Update (2023-01-25): Aaron Pearce:

Received my first support email about the HomePod temperature/humidity sensors not showing in my apps. Thanks Apple for blocking them from third parties.

Update (2023-01-27): John Gruber:

I first wish to note how deftly this announcement is written. Joz’s quote alludes, ever so slightly, to the fact that Apple is not merely updating the HomePod with a new model, but bringing it back after a long absence. But anyone who hasn’t been paying close attention would never notice that.


The conventional wisdom was strongly on the side that the problem with the original HomePod was its price — $350 originally, reduced to $300 in April 2019. Even I succumbed to that price-centric thinking in my brief item noting its discontinuation. I am now convinced that was wrong, though. I got it right back in 2018, when I wrote “HomePod’s Priorities”[…]


I suspect that reliability was the problem with the original models — some sort of design or engineering flaw that sent Apple back to the drawing board years before they expected to need a 2nd-generation model. HomePod Minis are great for what they are, but they’re no replacement for the full-size models in terms of room-filling sound quality.

M.G. Siegler:

Is it a significantly upgraded version at a better price? Nah, not really. It’s slightly smaller and slightly lighter. But that’s mainly because Apple has also reduced the number of tweeters and microphones in the device. Yes, it has an upgraded processor. But it’s a processor found in the Apple Watch (the S7) instead of the iPhone-focused chip found in the previous version (the A8). It has a slightly upgraded screen. But also a downgraded WiFi chip? It can tell the temperature, but the HomePod mini can also now do that. There’s a new ‘Midnight’ color, which as everyone knows, is just marketing for a very similar black/gray to the original model. It’s $299, which is the same price the original was discounted to after it failed to sell well at $349.

It’s just… weird.

Update (2023-02-03): Joe Rossignol:

Apple’s VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men’s Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker.


Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men’s Journal that Apple has since “heard more interest than ever for the acoustics of a richer larger speaker,” leading the company to release another larger HomePod.

Update (2023-02-13): Marco Arment:

It baffles me that reviewers said they couldn’t really hear a difference.

I don’t blame non-audio people for not being able to describe the difference very well, but I don’t know how someone could A/B-test them and not notice a clear difference.

My guess is that anyone who says they don’t notice a difference didn’t really set up an A/B test.

Even my informal, relatively uncontrolled kitchen-counter test reveals clear, obvious differences.

Kirk McElhearn:

I was surprised to find that the second generation HomePod sounds much better than the original model. It’s still expensive, at $299, but its ability to play spatial audio — enhanced if you have two HomePods in a stereo pair — makes it a compelling device for people who want to discover this new type of audio.

I’m still disappointed that neither HomePod supports Home Sharing. Without that, I would need an ongoing iTunes Match subscription or a dedicated AirPlay broadcaster device just to play music that I already own (but didn’t buy from Apple).

Update (2023-02-14): Quinn Nelson:

Quinn reviews the confusing, flawed, but rather compelling 2nd-generation HomePod in this audiophile-focused review.

He finds that the temperature readings on the full-sized HomePod are way off, says Siri is more consistent than with the original HomePod, and sees less latency with AirPlay.

Update (2023-02-16): Jason Snell:

I’d say that both the new and old HomePods sound really good. If a (bizarrely generous) burglar broke into the house of someone who had old HomePods and swapped them out for new models, they probably wouldn’t notice.


My biggest disappointment with the new HomePod is that it’s too much like its predecessor. The touch-sensitive top panel is easy to brush accidentally and can’t be seen easily if the speaker is placed up high—which I suppose is okay since the little light show it plays when it’s listening to a Siri command or playing music is completely pointless. Worse, the volume up/down controls (which were already hard to see on the original model since they didn’t light up until you touched the surface) now don’t light up at all, making changing the volume via touch a frustrating guessing game at times. Apple would’ve been better off dumping the “screen” and just putting a few physical buttons up top.

And then there’s Siri and AirPlay, which should be the highlights of all of these products—and instead are their greatest liability. When the wind is blowing right, and the moon is in the right part of the sky, Siri can be solid, responding to your questions quickly and playing music with ease. When it falls over, it’s incredibly frustrating, and it still falls over far more often than it should.

Update (2023-03-02): See also: The Talk Show.

iCloud Syncing Limitations & Solutions


With Apple’s limits, sync times can take hours and hours as they force limits on data transfer. The exact amount of time is dependent on the amount of data you have in iCloud.

Larger numbers of unread articles can cause a lot of data to be stored in iCloud. This is because we have to sync the article content of unread items.


Dealing with long sync times can be a little tricky on iPhones and iPads. These devices work hard to preserve battery life and don’t work well with long running processes. If you switch away from NetNewsWire or let your devices display go to sleep, you won’t complete a long running sync.

Our advice is do the following procedure right before you go to bed[…]

I find that syncing between Macs just works, even with a ton of data. With my iPhone, the app would always get stuck. After I removed some large feeds and marked some old posts as read, syncing did eventually complete, and it’s been quick to update ever since.


Reading Twitter and Mastodon in NetNewsWire

Dr. Drang:

Once upon a time, RSS feeds were part of Twitter, but those days have long since passed. Now you have to use either the Twitter features built into your RSS reader or use a specialized service like

As a NetNewsWire user, I set up its Twitter extension, which uses my Twitter account’s credentials, to access these accounts’ timelines and present them to me as if they were any other RSS subscription.

This is what I’m doing now, and it works quite well, even showing avatar images. Of course, there’s no telling whether the API will keep working. Feedbin can do this, too, though I find that it’s much slower to update with new tweets.


Though the UI doesn’t expose it (we should fix that, yes), you can subscribe to a Twitter list in NetNewsWire.

I’m also using NetNewsWire for Mastodon. As with Twitter, what I like compared with a lot of the clients is that it works well for reading in batch mode. It doesn’t lose posts if I get behind or mess up the scroll position when loading more in the middle of the timeline. I also like having explicit read indicators.

NetNewsWire doesn’t have an extension for Mastodon, and Mastodon doesn’t offer an RSS feed of your timeline, so I subscribe to each user’s individual RSS feed. There’s also no Mastodon feed for mentions, but it has reliable e-mail notifications (unlike Twitter).

All in all, I’m pleased to be able to follow multiple accounts for multiple services all in the same window. It works well on my iPhone, too. I never really liked reading RSS feeds on iOS, but it’s great with these short posts. I can quickly star the ones I want to do something with on my Mac, avoiding the slow, multi-tap process I had been using to share tweets to OmniFocus.


Update (2023-02-03): Brent Simmons:

Because of Twitter’s announcement that free access to the Twitter API will end February 9, we will be removing Twitter integration from NetNewsWire in the next release (6.1.1) for Mac and iOS.

App Store Results in iOS Search

Colin Cornaby:

Starting to feel super weird about App Store listings in iOS search. It usually just means whenever I’m searching for something some low quality app with the right SEO is now staring me in the face.

What’s really weird is that I get these crummy results for apps in the store, but—for years—if I type “Note” or “Remind” the built-in Notes and Reminders apps don’t show up at all. Why does it offer the Wikipedia page for the Notes app but not the app itself that’s actually on my phone? Is this because I once removed these apps from my home screen a long time ago?

Update (2023-01-18): Plateau Astro:

OK, so I’m not nuts! Reminders, Notes, and Calendars also don’t show up in search on iPhone for me

I can’t recall ever removing the Notes or Calendar app from my home screen/phone before. But funny enough, my iPad doesn’t have the app installed, yet shows a reminder there!

Calendar is also missing on my iPhone, and I don’t think I ever deleted that one.

Update (2023-01-19): The problem was that iOS had unchecked the apps in Settings ‣ Siri & Search.