Apple’s HomePod firmware spills more details on the smart speaker

Apple unveiled its Siri-powered HomePod speaker hub at WWDC back in June, and despite a hefty $ 350 pricetag and the inevitable comparisons to Alexa devices, it actually sounds pretty good. In the lead up to its release this December, Apple pushed out the hub’s firmware, revealing that it runs on iOS — basically like a screenless iPhone or iPad. But in its current incarnation, the HomePod won’t support third-party apps and programs, according to developer Steve Troughton-Smith’s analysis.


Obviously, that’s not to say the device never will. Since it runs on a full iOS stack through a shell app called “Soundboard,” they could always patch in the ability for third parties to load up their software later. If things don’t change before launch, it’s an odd move to make, especially given how late the HomePod is to the voice-controlled assistant game. Both Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices allow and encourage companies to make apps that enable custom interactions (Alexa has 15,000 of these “skills” and counting). It would also be a huge surprise if the HomePod didn’t integrate at launch with the IoT HomeKit system Apple keeps trying to make happen.

Otherwise, the firmware reveals a few things about the HomePod’s interactions. In keeping with Apple tradition, the device will support accessibility features including VoiceOver. Troughton-Smith believes the top touch surface is an LED matrix that could display shapes and symbols, not just big LED lights. Onboard controls are limited to activating Siri, adjusting volume and alarms on the HomePod — the bulk of which we discovered during our hands-on back in June.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will report if we hear back.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Steve Troughton-Smith (Twitter)

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Apple now insures your Mac in case of spills and drops

AppleCare is Apple’s extended warranty program for almost all of its products, while AppleCare+ covered iOS devices specifically. That little plus sign is important, too, since it protects your beloved iPhone and iPad against accidental damage. So it’s pretty big news that, as of this week, AppleCare+ is now available for Macs, protecting your pricey desktop and laptops against trips, spills and falls.

Much like its near-namesake, AppleCare+ for Mac covers your device for three years at a pop, including telephone support. The company will look after you for two accidents during that time, although each one still carries a hefty premium. Should you break your screen or dent your external enclosure, you’ll pay $ 99, while anything more severe is priced at $ 299.

The desktops are the cheapest to insure, with the Mac Mini setting you back $ 99, while an iMac is $ 169 and the Mac Pro costs $ 249. Laptop-wise, the MacBook and Air models are priced at $ 249, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro is $ 269 and the 15-incher is $ 379. Then again, if it’s a choice between AppleCare+ or shelling out the better part of three grand on a new laptop, three or four Benjamins is preferable.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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