HomePod… It’s Here!

Back during WWDC 2017, Apple unveiled a new speaker for the home called: HomePod. This is Apple’s first take on the smart speaker space that has been heavily dominated by the likes of Amazon and Google. With the HomePod, Apple talked about the smartness of this speaker. This speaker has the ability to sense the room and location in that room it is in to delivery crisp sound.

The speaker packs an A8 processor chip. This is the same chip that is found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. This processor is used to control, not only the ability to sense its location in a room, but to give it the smarts of Siri. The speaker is packed with technology and sound. It has 7 tweeters that surround the bottom of the HomePod. There are an array of microphones that surround the middle of the device. These microphones not only listen for you to invoke Siri, but to also measure the sound coming from the tweeters to know how to adjust the sound according to where it is in a room. Near the top of the speaker is a 4″ subwoofer that has a powerful motor that drives the diaphragm a full 20 mm. This allows for rich, deep bass that sounds great with most genres.

The speaker comes in either a white or a space grey color. Each speaker looks amazing. The speaker stands almost 7 inches tall and almost 5.5 inches wide. In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus is 6.25 inches tall, and the Google Home is about 5.6 inches tall. When you hold the HomePod, it has some weight to it. You can tell that this speaker was built well. The top has three touch control areas. There is a + and – for the volume to the far left and right. In the center, is where you can access Siri, pause and play music, and skip forward and back tracks.

The setup of the speaker is very simple. Plug the speaker’s power cord into the wall, and then shortly you will see a pairing image appear on your iPhone. This pairing process is the same as the AirPods. The HomePod and AirPods have the W1 chipset built into them that makes pairing to iPhone’s a breeze. You will be asked some questions during the setup. These consist of: signing into your iTunes/App Store Account, list of some commands that Siri can help you with, and then the finalization of the Setup.

Once the setup is complete, the fun starts to begin. Listening to music on this speaker is amazing. The treble sounds crisp, and the bass is deep and rich. Listening to classic rock, country, hip-hip, and pop music all sound incredible on the speaker. I even threw my favorite genre, dub/techno, at this speaker and was still amazed what you can hear. There have been some songs that I have actually been able to pick up a few more instruments playing in the background. I sit between an high-end music listener and an audiophile. I want bass, but not a crazy amount of bass. I want treble, but I don’t want it crackling. I want to hear music clearly, but at the same time, very filling. Powerful.

The HomePod has settings of its own that you can access via the Home App. A 3D Touch on the HomePod within this App will give you the options that you can change in the image below. Also, you can access your HomePod’s serial number and software version on this page too.

I have had the pleasure to use the HomePod for two full days now, and I have been sold on this product. If you are an Apple user. If you use many parts of the Apple Ecosystem. If you are subscribed to Apple Music. This speaker is going to be wonders for you.

Upcoming Updates:

WIth a future update, the speaker will be able to be paired with another one to create stereo. You will then be able to have your Apple TV play your music and movies through the speakers. That will sound amazing. Also with a future update, you will be able to have multiple HomePods in your house that you can command to play the same song on. So you can have a speaker in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom all playing the same song so you get your entire house filled with music. Another trick you will be able to do is have one speaker playing one song while another speaker is playing another song. That will be great for parties to have different music playing in the living room and in the basement.

The HomePod may not be for everyone. The speaker can not be hooked up with standard bluetooth. If you do not have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and if your iOS device isn’t on the latest iOS 11.2.5, you will not be able to use this speaker. Also, having Apple’s Music subscription is a key factor to this speaker. Right now, other music services like Spotify, Pandora, and Google Music, do not have native support on the speaker. You can AirPlay the music from these Apps on your iPhone to your HomePod, however; you will not be able to ask Siri to start to play a playlist from Spotify. Apple has hinted at future support for the 3rd parties, but it is unclear on when this will be available.

Let me know if you have any questions about this speaker, and I will be happy to answer.

~robert1ee

Below are some photos of my HomePod that is setup on my nightstand in my bedroom. Enjoy.

Netflix Black Mirror: Season 4

Netflix is bringing Season 4 of Black Mirror to us, and it looks awesome. This season isn’t changing its core tridition of being compelling. If you haven’t watched Black Mirror before… This is a show about how future technologies can benefit/harm humans. This show has a very interesting twist on how a cool piece of tech can actually ruin your life. If you haven’t seen the trailer for Season 4 yet, checkout the video below. 

Engadget has also made a very nice write up about this upcoming season. 

What are your thoughts on the 3 seasons of Black Mirror? 

~robert1ee

WWDC 2016 Thoughts

I haven’t watched the keynote yet; however, from what I have read Apple has made some nice tweaks to all their OS’s. 

What stood out to you? 

Comcast/Xfinity X1 Platform Temporarily Out Of Service. UPDATE: Service is Back! (for some)

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Dear Comcast/Xfinity customers…

Times are hard enough to make sure you can catch your show when you need to.  So… the World gave us DVR.  And the World was happy.  On day two, the World gave us the X1 platform.  And the World was happy.  On day three, the World takes away our X1 platform.  And the World was, errrrrr, happy???

According to the Comcast forums… many are having trouble.

The code error, as seen above in the picture, is RDK-03031.  According to Comcast, you see this message when the X1 box is having trouble connecting to the X1 Platform (just as the picture above states).  Here is what is suppose to resolve the problem:

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However, the connection7instructions above don’t seem to fix the issue at hand.  There are many people in forums that are having trouble.  Many are saying their Internet works still, but TV is a no go.

Many have said they have tried these instruction more than once.  I have the X1 platform, and I have tried three times now.  I have called the tech support number multiple times.  All I get is a busy signal.

I tried to use the online Chat for help.  With this, all I got was a “Connecting to Agent” status.  40 minutes later and it still says this.  Frustration starts to set it.

My Roku purchase seems to be looking better and better each time I use it, and tonight won’t be no exception.  In fact, tonight will be an awesome night to catch up on those TV shows I have been missing.

According to tch3612: No Connection.

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Also, there are problems when trying to call Comcast:

connection3 connection4 connection5

Laurie posted that she believes it is a system way outage according to information from her local Comcast.

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Are you having problems with your X1?  If so, let us know what is happening at your home below in the comments.

UPDATE: Appears that folks are finally starting to see some of their X1 systems coming back to life.  If you are still having issues, try one of two solutions that commenters have discovered below to see if this fixes things for you.

fix1 fix2

Sources: Comcast Forums

CurrentC; What Retailers Want in Your Wallet

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CVS and about 60 other businesses are wanting to create their own payment system called CurrentC. CurrentC doesn’t use NFC, it actually uses a QR Code??? Because this new payment system doesn’t use NFC, CVS has turned off ALL of the NFC enabled payment systems.

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WHAT!?!?!?!?

Seriously… this is the WORST decision that these companies can do. If you actually read into what CurrentC is, you’d want to stay far far away from it. Not only can CurrentC connect directly to you bank account, it can keep track of your purchases (and purchasing habits), and can get access to part of your phone that it doesn’t need to know (like Health data stored on your device).

CVS (and everyone else about to do this too)… you are in the wrong. What you are doing isn’t any different than saying… we don’t accept Visa and Mastercard anymore, only cash checks and American Express. SMH

google-wallet-logo Apple_Pay_logo.svg I hope Apple and Google take down this app. CurrentC should be stopped before it is even implemented. I use my phone with Google Wallet at CVS all the time. Two days ago, the transaction wouldn’t go through. The cashier and I didn’t know what the problem was. Now I know why it didn’t go through. Wow!

Read the article here: http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/25/currentc/

Twitter #Music Is Here!

Twitter Music App

Twitter #Music is now upon us… What is this and what can it do for you?

Twitter #Music is a service by Twitter that allows you to discover music.  How does it allow you to discover music? It uses Twitter tweets from its users that mentions song from iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and other music serivces.  Twitter then uses this information and lets you see what’s popular at the moment.

TwitterMusic

The website is laid out in tiles.  You can hover over a tile and click the play button for a 30 second preview of the song.  You can also follow that artist by clicking the Twitter bird icon that shows up in the top right corner as you hover over a tile.  There are different sections you can find music, such as: Popular, Emerging, Suggested, #NowPlaying, then your own page of artist you follow.

Screenshot (1)

Like the website… the iOS App has a tile layout as well.  The tiles are interactive.  These expand when you touch on one to emphasize the song/artist you are listening to.  With the iOS App, you can login to your Spotify or Rdio account to listen to full length songs.  Once you press play, it will continue to play each song from left to right.

Swiping from left to right (and vice versa) takes you to different sections.  As mentioned above, you can see what’s Popular, what’s Emerging, what’s Suggested, what’s #NowPlaying, and your profile.  You can also access drop down menu by pressing the top bar to then select a section.

This app is definitely something special.  I will update as I play more with this app for a complete review…

robert1ee