The Next Track, Episode #91 – The Apple HomePod Sounds Great, Except When it Doesn’t

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxKirk got his HomePod. He spent a couple of hours listening to music to judge the sound quality. In short, it sounds great at times, but at others it doesn’t.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #91 – The Apple HomePod Sounds Great, Except When it Doesn’t.

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Here’s Why Apple Will Fail at Original Video Content

Apple has launched a number of projects creating original video content – apparently, “TV” series for now – but there is already some sand in the works. As MacRumor reports, show runner Bryan Fuller, who was slated to run Apple’s Amazing Stories series, has left the project.

Fuller is said to have wanted to turn “Amazing Stories” into a Black Mirror-style show, while Apple is aiming for a more family friendly series.

This is why Apple will fail. “Family friendly” TV series don’t do very well today, at least not with critics. There are plenty of such series on TV, cable, and on Netflix and Amazon, but they aren’t the ones that get the mentions in the press about “the golden age of television.” It’s the series like The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and others, that get noticed, not because they are not family friendly, but because the broke barriers and went places that others didn’t dare. Of course, with something like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, these daring elements have been taken to excess, becoming parodies of themselves, but if Apple thinks they can do a Disney and have any presence in original series content, I can’t see that it will go very far.

It’s interesting how Apple has no problem selling and renting movies and TV series that are not family friendly, but draws the line at putting the company’s name on such content. What’s the difference? You’re selling the stuff either way. If you really don’t want sex and violence – as they prohibit in apps they sell – then stop selling it.

To be fair, I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, and I gave up on Game of Thrones early on, and tried, really tried, to stick with The Walking Dead for a while, but couldn’t go on. (I’m a fan of that sort of post-apocalyptic thing; like Stephen King’s The Stand.)

This said, there’s no reason why excellent TV can’t be family friendly. But in today’s television climate, it’s difficult. West Wing is one of the best series ever on TV (IMHO), and it was a network show. Friday Night Lights was a brilliant series, that ran on a network. And Downton Abbey was far from controversial. There are plenty of comedy series that are family friendly. But to push the envelope, there needs to be daring topics, ones that may have some swear words and some tits, and, well, some violence. Black Mirror, House of Cards, Westworld, Homeland, True Detective; all these current and recent series would not pass on US network TV.

But if Apple draws the line at family friendly TV, they will miss out on the next big series; the next Game of Thrones, True Detective, or Breaking Bad. Let’s face it, Reese Witherspoon will not be part of cutting-edge series drama.

Apple in Talks With Goldman Sachs Over Potential iPhone Buyer Finance Options – Mac Rumors

Apple is in talks with its investment bank Goldman Sachs about the possibility of offering customers financial loans when buying Apple products, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

“The Wall Street firm is in talks to offer financing to shoppers buying phones, watches and other gadgets from Apple,┬ápeople familiar with the matter said.┬áCustomers purchasing a $1,000 iPhone X could take out a loan from Goldman instead of charging it to credit cards that often carry high interest rates.”

I have long wondered why Apple doesn’t create their own finance company, the way car manufacturers do. It would help them sell more products, and the risk would be shared over large numbers of purchasers.

Perhaps Apple doesn’t think it is part of their role as a hardware manufacturer, and, if so, that’s understandable, but such a move would allow Apple to cater to a wider range of customers, and save them money.

Source: Apple in Talks With Goldman Sachs Over Potential iPhone Buyer Finance Options – Mac Rumors

Whose Fault Is This?

Yesterday evening, I was lying in bed listening to an audiobook. It was playing on my iPhone, and I was listening on my AirPods. Suddenly, the audiobook stopped. I picked up my iPhone, and saw that it was still playing. It took a few seconds for me to think of checking where the audio was going. When I did, I found that it was sending the audio to my car.

My partner had just gotten home, and parked the car by the side of the house; on the same side as the bedroom. The car would have been about 10m from where I was, roughly the limit of Bluetooth transmission.

But why did the iPhone switch? It knew I was listening on the AirPods; why did it think I wanted to listen in the car?

I don’t know which device – the car or the iPhone – caused this, but it’s wrong. The iPhone shouldn’t switch audio without an alert, or a dialog asking if I want to switch.

Apple Finally Clears Up HomePod Sources

There has been a lot of speculation about what the HomePod will be able to play, notable regarding the iCloud Music Library. Apple has finally updated its HomePod specifications to list all sources that can be played on the HomePod:

  • Apple Music1
  • iTunes Music Purchases
  • iCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription
  • Beats 1 Live Radio
  • Podcasts
  • AirPlay other content to HomePod from iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and Mac

Note that, with the exception of AirPlay at the end of the list, these are all sources that you can control with Siri, the only way to control the HomePod other than by streaming over AirPlay. The lack of details about this led a lot of people to assume that you would not be able to stream music from your iCloud Music Library. As I wrote here, I thought this limitation would be because Siri has a lot of trouble playing music that’s not on Apple Music, or in the iTunes Store; I still am curious to see how reliable it is.

I would have expected the HomePod to be able to play your music library directly, without Siri or without streaming via AirPlay. It should be able to load your library and let you control it with the Remote app on an iOS device.

One interesting feature is peer-to-peer AirPlay, which means that an iOS device or a Mac can send music over AirPlay even if it’s not on the wi-fi network that the device uses.