By Dan Moren
January 31, 2018 1:45 PM PT
The Back Page: 6 Hardware Features
Much ado has been made of the features that Apple isn’t shipping along with the HomePod. There’s no support for stereo pairing, no multiroom audio, and no AirPlay 2, even though all were touted as major features of the device. But that’s fine—it’s no big deal, really. After all, there are plenty of other features that might come to the HomePod at a later date. As with the Apple Watch, the HomePod is the kind of device that Apple can enhance over time, adding new features and capabilities as they see fit.
But in order to really upgrade what the HomePod can do, eventually Apple is going to have to take the leap and update the HomePod’s hardware.
And that’s great, because I’ve got a few ideas.
Retina display: It’s inevitable. Pretty much every Apple product already has one, so why not the HomePod? How else are you going to see the latest cavalcade of angry tweets from across the room? You going to have Siri just read them to you? What even is an Apple product without a screen? What is this, the HomePod Shuffle?
Face ID: One complaint with the HomePod is that it doesn’t know how to identify different users. Good thing Apple’s already solved this problem. Face ID! Apple can embed its True Depth camera into the top of the HomePod. Then, whenever you want to ask it about what’s on your calendar or to send a text message to your mom, you can just go stare down at the top of it. It’ll even be able to learn your “yelling face” over time.
Heart rate sensor: You know how when you’re working out you want faster tempo music? Well, stands to reason the HomePod could figure this out automatically. Like, if I jump on my exercise bike in the living room, the HomePod can automatically play music that complements my current fitness level, whether it be “Flight of the Bumblebee” or the theme from “Rocky” or, I dunno, something by Sarah MacLachlan. Look, don’t judge. Sometimes I like to take it slow.
MagSafe connector: All-out dance parties can be dangerous. Lamps get broken, things get knocked off shelves, occasionally plaster shakes loose from the ceiling. To be fair, these are things I have learned from ‘80s movies, not personal experience, but I don’t think they’d lie to me. Anyway, seeing as how you’re paying $350 for this very fancy speaker, the least Apple can do is make sure that you don’t trip over the power cord and send the thing flying.
Headphone jack: Look, sometimes you don’t want the “highest-fidelity” sound. Sometimes you just want to listen quietly to yourself. What’s the deal leaving out the headphone jack, Apple? People want to be able to plug in their very expensive (or very cheap) third-party headphones.
USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 support: I…don’t really know why, but my understanding is people get very upset when it’s not there?
These are just a few suggestions off the top of my head, and while I’m not saying Apple needs to do all of these, I think I’ve made it pretty clear that without them, the first version of the HomePod is destined to be an epic flop.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]