By Dan Moren
June 9, 2020 10:53 AM PT
WWDC Wish List: HomePod stereo pair as Mac system output
The HomePod has kind of faded into the background since its release more than two years ago, with little in the way of new features, and some notable omissions still remaining. Among all those, the one that frustrates me the most is the inability to use a stereo pair of HomePods at the system level on macOS.
Yes, the Music app on the Mac can send audio to a pair of HomePods grouped together in a stereo pair. Yes, macOS can send all system audio to a single HomePod. But somehow, the twain shall never meet. That’s pretty poor performance when compared with both iOS devices and the Apple TV, all of which have no problem outputting audio to a stereo pair of Apple’s own devices.
This might seem like a small thing, but for me it has a couple of big impacts. The first and more immediate is that I end up with a slightly ridiculous four speakers on my desk: two HomePods and two traditional computer speakers. I’d be happy to replace the clunky (though perfectly good-sounding) latter with the former, in the interests of simplifying.
But the latter, and larger issue, is the place of the HomePod within Apple’s ecosystem. In the over two years since Apple released the smart speaker, it’s seen only meager improvements. It seems very much as though, like the late-lamented iPod Hi-Fi before it1, the HomePod may be destined to go down in history as a weird, expensive indulgence product that never really took off.
However, there is some hope. A recent update transitioned the onboard software from something based on iOS to a tvOS-based system, which suggests that perhaps development on the product is more active than previously thought. Moreover, there have for some time been whispers of a lower-priced HomePod that might help broaden its appeal in the market–though don’t expect anything as cheap as similar offerings from Amazon and Google.
But when WWDC rolls around in a couple weeks, I’m hoping that the HomePod’s second coming will kick off just this little, but important update: letting you use a stereo pair as your Mac’s default speakers. Don’t let me down.
- Yes, Jason, I know you love yours! ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]
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