The Central-Traits Edition Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Apple’s New HomePod Plays It Safe, by Chris Welch and Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, The Verge

When it comes to audio performance, the most important component of Apple’s new HomePod remains the high-excursion woofer, which can be driven up to 20mm to push as much air as possible and maximize bass response. Powerful lows are where the HomePod sets itself apart from similarly sized speakers like the Sonos One, Amazon Echo, and Nest Audio. But bass is rarely flabby or overpowering: here again, the internal mics are dynamically monitoring and calibrating output to keep the low-end kick powerful but tight and clean.


How does it sound, then? After several days of listening to the new HomePod (both solo and in a stereo pair), I still think its sound signature remains true to the original HomePod. If you were a fan of that speaker, you’ll be satisfied with the second-gen version. Sure, you can hear subtle differences in how music is rendered when comparing both generations side by side with the same track. The newer HomePod might bring out a guitar solo with slightly more emphasis than the original. But the central traits are the same.

Apple HomePod (2023) Review, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

If you made me choose a single word to describe the sound here, I would probably go with “full.” The highs are high, the lows are low, the mids are… you get the picture. This is, of course, best experienced with songs available in high bit-rates or a lossless format. This, of course, is one of the places where Apple Music shines relative to Spotify. I’ve long believed that years of listening to compressed music has made it difficult for the average listener to pick out the difference between, say, lossless and a high-bit rate. But paired with the new HomePod, digital streaming starts to sing.

The separation is great, especially with a stereo pair, which lends a sense of space to the music. Drums, in particular, sound clean and clear, though the low end can overwhelm, and, if you’re like me and placed your speakers on the desktop in front of you, you can really feel elements like the kick drum. That’s sometimes nice and sometimes too much. Apple’s position favors its own in-house tuning. It’s a delicate balance, but I tend to favor more control and would love the ability to fiddle around with EQ sliders in the home app.

New HomePod Can Still Stain Some Wooden Surfaces, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

When the original HomePod launched in 2018, it was discovered that the speaker can leave white rings on some wooden surfaces. Now, well-known YouTuber Marques Brownlee has confirmed that the issue persists to a lesser extent with the new HomePod.

Kick Off

MLS Season Pass Launches On Apple TV App Ahead Of Soccer Season Start, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

All games will be available through Apple TV app, including any of the matchups that are also being broadcast on national TV. MLS Season Pass is available in more than 100 countries.

Apple's MLS Streaming Service Doesn't Include Ad Guarantees, by Bloomberg

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant hasn’t been looking for buyers of individual ads during the games, asking marketers instead to buy a season-long series of spots that will run during the games, according to people familiar with the company’s sales efforts.

Apple hasn’t been guaranteeing advertisers they’ll reach a certain number of viewers, a standard practice in TV. It’s also not accepting ads from sports-betting companies, at least initially, according to two of the people.


Anker Finally Comes Clean About Its Eufy Security Cameras, by Sean Hollister, The Verge

In a series of emails to The Verge, Anker has finally admitted its Eufy security cameras are not natively end-to-end encrypted — they can and did produce unencrypted video streams for Eufy’s web portal, like the ones we accessed from across the United States using an ordinary media player.

But Anker says that’s now largely fixed. Every video stream request originating from Eufy’s web portal will now be end-to-end encrypted — like they are with Eufy’s app — and the company says it’s updating every single Eufy camera to use WebRTC, which is encrypted by default. Reading between the lines, though, it seems that these cameras could still produce unencrypted footage upon request.


'Lose Weight To End Racism': Apple Watch Criticized For Launching Fitness Unity Challenge To Celebrate Black History Month, by Tricia Crimmins, Daily Dot

An Apple Watch fitness challenge is being called insensitive on TikTok and Twitter after prompting wearers to celebrate Black History Month by working out for seven days in a row in February.

Inside Three Turbulent Months At Foxconn’s iPhone Factory, by Viola Zhou, Rest of World

Chinese factory laborers call jobs like Hunter’s “working the screws.” Until recently, the 34-year-old worked on the iPhone 14 Pro assembly line at a Foxconn factory in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. His task was to pick up an iPhone’s rear cover and a tiny cable that charges the battery, scan their QR codes, peel off adhesive tape backing, and join the two parts by tightening two screws. He’d then put the unfinished phone onto a conveyor belt that carried it to the next station.

Hunter had to complete this task once every minute. During a normal 10-hour shift, his target was to attach 600 cables to 600 cases, using 1,200 screws. Every day, 600 more unassembled iPhones awaited him.

Bottom of the Page

Well, sure sounds like the new HomePods are still… well… sounding good. That's good. Now, onwards to the next step in the living room strategy.

Is there one?


Thanks for reading.