The Audio-Profile Edition Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Deep Dive Into HomePod's Adaptive Audio, Beamforming, And Why It Needs An A8 Processor, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

In the case of Apple, it's using array of six microphones and a digital signal processor (DSP) to understand the environment based on its acoustics, and adapt the device's output to better suit its physical location and the room's audio profile. Considering the multiple speakers and the microphone array, it is possible for such a system to customize the output of each speaker to allow for a similar sound to be heard through as much of the environment's space as possible.

If HomePod is running a realtime DSP that can alter the sound emitted from each of the device's seven tweeter speakers, it can constantly change the profile even if the environment itself changes, such as the mass of the listener moving to a different location in the same area. The experience is consistent regardless of position, with Hines adding the consistency will make listening to music "more seamless and more immersive."

Up Close With Apple’s HomePod, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

Apple’s approach also means that you need an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to get set up with the speaker (it works in tandem with Apple TV, but the set-top box can’t be used to get up and running). One of the upsides of that limited offering is an extremely streamlined setup experience. It’s really similar to pairing Apple’s AirPods, with a dialogue box that pops up on the mobile device. From there, you choose which room you’ll be putting it in, enable Siri and opt into personal requests.

That last bit involves using the speaker to offer up things like notifications. At present, the HomePod isn’t capable of differentiating users based on voice, so things can’t be personalized to that degree. The workaround the company has come up with for dealing with this is only enabling that functionality when the device detects that the mobile device used to set it up is present.

HomePod Vs. Amazon Echo Vs. Google Home Max Vs. Sonos One: Speaker Showdown, by Serenity Caldwell, iMore

On the HomePod, every part of a choral harmony sounds just as clear as the lead vocalist — no easy feet for a single 6.8-inch speaker. Harmonies do sound beautiful on the Sonos One, but blend more into a single musical phrase; you can't isolate the singers in your mind as well as you can through the HomePod.

It reminds me a bit of the difference between seeing an a capella group sing live (for kicks, let's say unplugged) versus a recording. When you see a group live, your eyes and brain can help map certain harmonies to the singer producing them; on a recording, without expert separation, it's harder for your brain to make those connections.

Bug Report

Bad Apple #1: iCloud Photo Library Re-uploading, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

I was seeing some strange problems on my 27-inch iMac running macOS 10.13.3 High Sierra. Messages wasn’t getting or sending messages, Wi-Fi calling wasn’t working, and after upgrading to 10.13.3, I was unable to turn auto-unlock with my Apple Watch. To solve these problems, I turned iCloud off and back on. Despite the iCloud preference pane throwing an ominous error, the problems did indeed disappear.

However, there’s a nasty side effect of turning iCloud off and back on: iCloud Photo Library needs to re-upload all your photos. It does this in order to compare the library’s contents to the synchronization “truth” at iCloud. Fair enough, except that this process can take days, depending on the size of your Photos library and the speed of your Internet connection. Bad Apple! We don’t see that sort of poor performance with Dropbox or Google Drive, and this behavior is both unnecessary and driving people away from iCloud Photo Library.


This 1983 Demo Says So Much About Apple’s Past, Present, And Future, by Harry McCracken, Fast Company

As you might understand, I got a Proustian rush from revisiting the Lisa and Apple IIe demos I witnessed in person when I was 18, as one of 1,500-plus attendees who filled the hall and overflow space to capacity. We were the first members of the general public to see the machines, one week after Apple formally announced them at its annual meeting in Cupertino at De Anza College’s Flint Center. And in retrospect, we were unimaginably fortunate. After all, lots of Apple aficionados would kill to get into the one of the company’s current product launches, but only members of the press, VIPs, and various other invited guests need apply.

What I didn’t realize until I watched the video is that seeing the meeting all over again wasn’t just an act of personal nostalgia. Between them, the IIe and Lisa, and the way Apple explained them to us BCS members, are full of lessons that remain resonant in the era of the iPhone.

The Little-known Apple Lisa: Five Quirks And Oddities, by Benj Edwards, Macworld

The Mac borrowed heavily from the Lisa, and the Mac went on to great things while the Lisa floundered. As a result, it’s tempting to treat the Lisa as merely a footnote in the history of Apple. But as anyone who has used a real Lisa knows, Apple’s first GUI-based computer played host to many distinctive quirks and traits that tend to get overlooked in the history books.

The machine’s 30th anniversary is as good a time as any to take a look at a handful of both odd and useful features that truly made the Lisa something unique.


Apple Gets Its Animojis To Sing Nominated Songs In Amusing Ads For The Grammys, by Tim Nudd, AdWeek

Two 60-second spots feature an alien Animoji and a dog Animoji singing songs that are nominated for music’s top award:”Stir Fry” by rap trio Migos, and “Redbone” by Childish Gambino.

'Algebra Nation' App Helping Students At R.B. Stall High School Master Algebra, by Brodie Hart, ABC4

“You can test yourself, get help from the tutors on Algebra Nation,” Shine added. Algebra Nation is an app that’s giving freshmen at Stall High School access to tutoring videos that walks them through algebra problems. There’s also a forum where students can chat with study experts to get help.

“They’re making gains, that’s the big thing,” said Hope Gamble, an algebra teacher at Stall High School. She say the app gives both teachers and students more options. “I can still be teaching somebody who wants that teacher in front of them and then they can be listening on the iPad.”


Apple Goes Back To The Future With Web Apps, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

Apple's about to introduce Service Workers in Safari 11.1. So. what are Service Workers, and why might they matter to you or your enterprise?


Steven Soderbergh Says He’s Done Directing Studio Movies And Wants To Only Shoot On iPhones, by Eric Kohn, IndieWire

The filmmaker has experimented with digital cinematography for years, going back to 2002’s “Full Frontal,” but found that the iPhone offered unparalleled quality. “People forget, this is a 4k capture,” said Soderbergh, who was long a passionate advocate for the high-end RED cameras. “I’ve seen it 40 feet tall. It looks like velvet. This is a gamechanger to me.”

Asked if he would commit exclusively to shooting on iPhones going forward, he replied, “I’d have to have a pretty good reason not to be thinking about that first… There’s a philosophical obstacle a lot of people have about the size of the capture device. I don’t have that problem. I look at this as potentially one of the most liberating experiences that I’ve ever had as a filmmaker, and that I continue having. The gets that I felt moment to moment were so significant that this is, to me, a new chapter.”

The Dirty War Over Diversity Inside Google, by Nitasha Tiku, Wired

What followed, the employees say, was a wave of harassment. On forums like 4chan, members linked advocates’ names with their social-media accounts. At least three employees had their phone numbers, addresses, and deadnames (a transgender person’s name prior to transitioning) exposed. Google site reliability engineer Liz Fong-Jones, a trans woman, says she was the target of harassment, including violent threats and degrading slurs based on gender identity, race, and sexual orientation. More than a dozen pages of personal information about another employee were posted to Kiwi Farm, which New York has called “the web’s biggest community of stalkers.”

Meanwhile, inside Google, the diversity advocates say some employees have “weaponized human resources,” by goading them into inflammatory statements, which are then captured and reported to HR for violating Google’s mores around civility or for offending white men.

Bottom of the Page

I blame Phil Schiller, I blame Tim Cook, I blame Steve Jobs.

I blame Apple for making me pause, just for a half a second, a bit puzzled, a bit unhinged, as I came to this particular chapter in this book that I was reading.

The book was 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster, and I was reaching the part of the story set in the 1960s. And one name pops up: Malcom X.

And I pause for just a moment, the flow of the story interrupted, while I pondered: now, how do I pronounce the X in Malcom X?



Thanks for reading.