Rather than buy a soundbar or a home theatre system - I would have thought it was comparable? The sound is apparently very good. Airplay 2 and pairing is not available yet, so will wait until that comes online.
I can use Siri on the iPhone or iPad to play music via Airplay speakers.
I do however see a need for a device that allows rapid verbal responses to quick questions. I chose a Google Home Mini because:
(1) $78 < $499
(2) I have found the Google Assistant to offer better voice recognition than Siri, at least for my voice
(3) I believe that Google is the best search engine
(4) Google provided the most accurate answers to my common natural language queries
These devices remove the need and the time to find, pick up and logon to an iPhone or iPad. I could have Siri setup to be always accessible from an iPhone or iPad, but this may make private info publically accessible when I am out and about. It is easier and more secure to set up the Google Home Mini, using a separate, dedicated Google account.
This arrangement means I cannot access messages or emails, but I can live with that. I can however create calendar entries by sharing the Google Calendar with my Apple devices.
If you can find the time, listen to episode 058 of the Vector podcast. It convincingly puts voice, or the decendants of parts of Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant, at the centre of the the tech future, whilst discussing the big mistakes involved in all three. Imagine the hilarity in 5 to 10 years when people describe what typing was.
I’ve had an iPad on the fridge for a few years now and was using Siri to set timers, but not a lot else. It’s always been maybe 80% in even doing just that and lately that rate was closer to 40% in getting it right first time.
To be fair I am using an old iPad 3 so maybe the mic isn’t good enough and/or it’s just getting old.
A week or so ago when they were on sale at JB I grabbed the two pack of Google Home Mini’s with the intent to go halves with a friend making them more like $40 each. I already use Gmail, Google calendar and Google Play Music so I’ve already got plenty of ties to their ecosystem (mostly I like that it’s online and hardware independent).
After some quick setup I’m pretty impressed at just how accurate and consistent it is at doing things like setting calendar entries, timers, conversions (for cooking) etc. It even works reasonably well as a speaker in the kitchen. At this point my friend seems to have lost interest so I’m considering dropping the other one in the lounge room
(PS. The kids like asking Google to tell them a joke… and so do I ).
On a related note, a few weeks ago I ordered some Xiaomi Smart Home “Mi” things. At this stage just the hub and a couple of temperature sensors.
These are great in that I have a widget on my phone letting me know the temperature/humidity at home (in various places) at a glance, their ecosystem also allows for control of various other devices including an IR AC controller.
Which leads to the next point and my current struggle. None of these systems talk to each other.
We are a house full of iPad/iPhone users so have built an ecosystem around AirPlay. The mini system in the dining room (which is what we usually listen to music from in the kitchen) has Bluetooth and AirPlay (and DAB+), so it’s convenient to play music from the fridge iPad or one of the other iOS devices via AirPlay knowing that you can control the volume as well as skip tracks from either the Sony remote, the iOS device, the stereo itself or even your Apple watch.
So while the Google Home things can play music, they can’t integrate with all the other things. Sonos speakers would be nice, but I already have nice speakers. The idea of Google Chrome Audio is there, but when it gets down to an analog 3.5mm jack I start to lose interest.
My temperature things can’t be read by Google (or Siri)… I’ve also got a little IR blaster thing that’s controllable via an iPhone app and ITTT stuff that would allow me to control “things”…
What I need now is some sort of aggregator software that connects to all the different standards and allows control from Google / Siri / Alexa… I’ve seen something things around that can do something things, but they usually need some sort of coding to get things working with different things. On the upside, they will run on a Raspberry Pi.
Off track completely, other than to say I really do like my $40 Google Home Mini.
Cursive writing is becoming a niche art form that people use for special greeting cards and similar.
I have been asked to write cards in cursive with ink on a few occasions, I try and avoid it because doing it well is time consuming. I doubt it will ever go totally away (at least not in the medium term).
At Kryal Castle there is/was a calligrapher who would write your name in lovely cursive olde fashion writing.
Voice recognition has been around for a long time - Apple’s own Casper project bringing us one of the first systems that could understand a fairly wide vocabulary back in 1993 - provided you spoke with a Californian accent. But in a desktop setting, it was never really going to replace a keyboard.
Even now with Casper’s replacement sitting in all of our iPhones and iPods, sometimes typing on those tiny tactile-less keyboards is quicker than using voice.
But now HomePod and the like could truly finally bring voice recognition to its most optimal environment.
Of course, we need to be able to afford it… and it needs to actually work.
I must confess I was in the skeptical camp when it came to HomePod but having read the audio comparisons between the various smart speaker systems that are available it’s clear that there is really only 2 options if one wants halfway reasonable audio quality, the Sonos and the HomePod and comparisons are giving the edge to the HomePod at the moment (audio quality) but Sonos is available to use paired right now and it’s cheaper.
I really need something that sounds ‘ok’ for my lounge room, the sound bar on the TV is ok for movie explosions but it seriously sucks for music and wired systems don’t suit my living circumstances.
Put me down as a maybe, I’m going to go down to Melbourne and have a listen when I get a chance.
It supports AirPlay, Spotify Connect (i.e. direct stream not draining iOS device battery), Pandora and also direct internet radio for most stations, and has optical and analog inputs.
I have a couple of Yamaha WX-010 in other rooms, along with an AppleTV + speakers in our parents retreat/office.
So all my speakers are AirPlay 1 and work great - especially when we want audio in living room without TV on (i.e. nice to be able to just AirPlay to the soundbar rather than Apple TV even though there’s an Apple TV there too.
If I need multi-zone I just use iTunes from my Mac to my existing AirPlay 1 set of speakers around the house. Apple Watch has an iTunes Remote app still. Hoping that doesn’t get killed!!
Way better setup I reckon. I chose it over Sonos as I wanted native AirPlay 90% of the time as that’s how we play music.
Don’t see the point of a simple AirPlay speaker that can’t take optical or analog in, and requires an Apple Music subscription to play music otherwise. Can’t see how it’d fit in a TV mix (i.e. what if you want Foxtel or Free to Air?).
My TV sound bar system was chosen for lots of bassy explosion type noises that SF movies (and similar Netflix content) and also similar sounds that the PS4 Pro tends to make and yes it sucks for mid range music clarity. That doesn’t matter because I don’t stream music to the TV or listen to music in the lounge.
If I want Foxtel or FTA TV then it would be for sports (cricket, AFL, motor racing) and none of those need music quality sound either.
If I’m listening to music then I’m doing the dishes in the kitchen or folding clothes in the dining room (or in the car). I don’t listen to music in the TV room, I just don’t (it’s the TV/Game room, not the music room).
That means I need a compact speaker in the kitchen and another compact speaker in the lounge. The portable bluetooth one I use now really doesn’t ‘fill the room’ with music and lacks both clear mid range and good highs. Also remembering to charge it… well that means it goes flat and I go ‘oh it needs charging’.
My home audio doesn’t need lots of bass (because I don’t listen to doof doof music) and it needs to work seamlessly with Apple Music (which is what I’m subscribed to).
I couldn’t care less about SIRI to be honest but if it can play a playlist without me picking up the phone to select one like I do now then that’s one less step.
But Sonos will do all of that and it’s 2 units for the price of 1 Apple HomePod at the moment, yes it’s got slightly muddier midrange but it’d still be a big step up from what I’m using now.
I was getting a bit interested until I read that they will only play your non-iTunes-purchased content if you use iCloud Music Library. Even if I did use this, which I don’t, it would still exclude the half of my iTunes library that isn’t available on Apple Music. Bit of a shame for me.