Home Pod experiences

gnirkatto

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A few weeks ago I thought it's time to buy me the new (big) Home Pod. I have most things Apple but never had a home pod.
I replaced a Sonos Play:5, which I liked from a handling & features perspective, but got increasingly dissatisfied with its sound (yes indeed!).

After 2 weeks with the home pod, I returned it, and here is why:

Sound was very good. Fully sufficient for my likes. Better than the Sonos Play:5.
But what's usually close to perfect with Apple products (system integration and product interoperability), turned out to be abysmal with the Home Pod. I started the 6 months trial period for Apple Music, to achieve the best possible integration/ease of use/Dolby Atmos support etc. (I used and still use Spotify, which doesn't offer Atmos yet). What I found was mostly disappointing:
  • starting a song on e.g. the Mac to be played on the Home Pod does NOT show the song playing on other devices (iPhone, iPad). Sonos with Spotify and/or Apple Music connected does. WTF Apple? One Apple iD, one iCloud account, one Music subscription, one music server in the cloud.
  • starting a playlist or album anywhere on an Apple device needs the device to continue being on and in reach. Eg. when starting a song on the Mac, and closing the lid, the music stops. When starting a playlist on the iPhone and then turning the phone off or leaving the wireless range will continue to play the current song but the rest of the playlist will not get played. Sonos with music services connected does that. I can start to play an album or playlist, and the Sonos will connect directly to the server, and continue to play, even if I turn off all devices. WTF Apple, how badly designed is this system, compared to Sonos?
Besides several other quirks that I found when using Apple Music & Home Pod, these were the main reasons for me to return the home Pod. I'm using these loudspeakers mainly for listening to music, so features like temperature or humidity measurement are not important for me. What I will miss is the Home Pod acting as a home automation control center, so I will have to run another vendor's product, instead of getting rid of an additional box. But like I said, music is the main thing for me.

Finally, I bought me the new Sonos Era 300, and besides all these outstanding convenience features, it sounds even better than the Home Pod!

I'm a fan, but this is not good enough, Apple.
 

gnirkatto

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P.S. I don't even have to use the Sonos app for 'deviceless' continuous playing: I just started playing an album from Spotify on the Mac, and it continued uninterruptedly when closing the lid.
 

FFR

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I usually just ask Siri to play a playlist from Apple Music on the HomePod.

But on the occasion that I’m listening to the playlist on my phone I would use handoff to continue on the HomePod, works pretty well for me.
 

EdwinG

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  • starting a song on e.g. the Mac to be played on the Home Pod does NOT show the song playing on other devices (iPhone, iPad). Sonos with Spotify and/or Apple Music connected does. WTF Apple? One Apple iD, one iCloud account, one Music subscription, one music server in the cloud.
  • starting a playlist or album anywhere on an Apple device needs the device to continue being on and in reach. Eg. when starting a song on the Mac, and closing the lid, the music stops. When starting a playlist on the iPhone and then turning the phone off or leaving the wireless range will continue to play the current song but the rest of the playlist will not get played
Sorry that the HomePod did not work for you... Those things just happen.

In my experience, these two are features of the HomePod, but it's tricky to get to them.

I will need to double check with my HomePod Mini pair this weekend and report back :)
 
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gnirkatto

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Sorry that the HomePod did not work for you... Those things just happen.

In my experience, these two are features of the HomePod, but it's tricky to get to them.

I will need to double check with my HomePod Mini pair this weekend and report back :)
I spent ~2 hours on the phone with Apple support trying to get this working until they admitted it won't.
Even if there is a way somewhere, this should be easy to find, klick one button and go.
 

gnirkatto

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I usually just ask Siri to play a playlist from Apple Music on the HomePod.

But on the occasion that I’m listening to the playlist on my phone I would use handoff to continue on the HomePod, works pretty well for me.
yes I understand that - with Siri it might work.
However, try this, if you don't want to create a playlist for every single album or piece that you want to listen to:

'Hey Siri, play Bach , JS.: St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 by Nikolaus Harnoncourt und Concentus Musicus Wien' or
'Hey Siri, play IV. Rezitative und Chöre. "Da versammelten sich die Hohepriester" by Matthis Goerne, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Wiener Sängerknaben, .....' (I even have difficulties remembering it to key it in here)
etc.

Try to remember the exact title.
Try to say it correctly so Siri will understand.
And there are much more complicate album names and 'song' titles out there.
And there are lots of new or old music of that kind that one might discover while browsing through the catalog of a music app, and would like to listen to instantly, without having to go through any kind of hassle. And without getting annoyed about the music stopping when inadvertently closing the lid of the Mac.

Therefore Siri doesn't help my use case.
 

FFR

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yes I understand that - with Siri it might work.
However, try this, if you don't want to create a playlist for every single album or piece that you want to listen to:

'Hey Siri, play Bach , JS.: St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 by Nikolaus Harnoncourt und Concentus Musicus Wien' or
'Hey Siri, play IV. Rezitative und Chöre. "Da versammelten sich die Hohepriester" by Matthis Goerne, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Wiener Sängerknaben, .....' (I even have difficulties remembering it to key it in here)
etc.

Try to remember the exact title.
Try to say it correctly so Siri will understand.
And there are much more complicate album names and 'song' titles out there.
And there are lots of new or old music of that kind that one might discover while browsing through the catalog of a music app, and would like to listen to instantly, without having to go through any kind of hassle. And without getting annoyed about the music stopping when inadvertently closing the lid of the Mac.

Therefore Siri doesn't help my use case.

Asking Siri to play playlists works very well and are pretty easy to set up.

Much easier and faster to put those complicated songs into a playlist then to say it out loud.

It’s great you returned the HomePod. You can get yourself a cheaper wireless speaker if all you wanted to do was airplay.
 

gnirkatto

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Did you misunderstand what I said on purpose?
I do not always listen to the same songs or pieces, and I often want to discover new (or newly recorded old) stuff.
I wonder how to put that into a playlist, before I even discovered it.

And just FYI, the Era 300 that I purchased instead costs more than the Home Pod.
And with that, I almost never use Air Play, as the Sonos connects to the music service server directly. As described here in my 1st post. Overread?
 

EdwinG

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Sorry that the HomePod did not work for you... Those things just happen.

In my experience, these two are features of the HomePod, but it's tricky to get to them.

I will need to double check with my HomePod Mini pair this weekend and report back :)
So, I just had time to sit down and try it on my own HomePod mini (and I'm having issues with them severing the connection in the stereo pair since Thursday - unrelated as I'm suspecting my home firewall and wireless to be at fault).

Also, I do know you returned your HomePod. I'm posting the steps to anyone stumbling on this thread in the future :D

  • starting a song on e.g. the Mac to be played on the Home Pod does NOT show the song playing on other devices (iPhone, iPad). Sonos with Spotify and/or Apple Music connected does. WTF Apple? One Apple iD, one iCloud account, one Music subscription, one music server in the cloud.

The feature is really hidden, but it is really there.

To get it, you need to:
  1. Use Control Centre and tap the "Now Playing" widget.
    IMG_D71CB7660B29-1.jpeg
  2. Tap the "Control Other Speakers & TVs" button at the bottom.
    IMG_14BF5F71BD08-1.jpeg
  3. Choose the HomePod.
    IMG_F901EEB23EE0-1.jpeg
  4. Once that is done, the Lock Screen playing widget will appear on the Lock Screen.
    IMG_0600.jpg
From step 3, you can control what the HomePod plays independently :)

  • starting a playlist or album anywhere on an Apple device needs the device to continue being on and in reach. Eg. when starting a song on the Mac, and closing the lid, the music stops. When starting a playlist on the iPhone and then turning the phone off or leaving the wireless range will continue to play the current song but the rest of the playlist will not get played. Sonos with music services connected does that. I can start to play an album or playlist, and the Sonos will connect directly to the server, and continue to play, even if I turn off all devices. WTF Apple, how badly designed is this system, compared to Sonos?

In the Apple Music app on macOS, you need to select the HomePod from the "Switch To" section in the switcher. On iOS and iPadOS, see above steps - it's the same feature.
Screenshot 2023-05-14 at 21.52.58.png

It will change the top line of the "Now Playing" field to the HomePod's name - here, HPM-Bedroom.
Screenshot 2023-05-14 at 22.14.34.png

From this point, you're controlling whatever the HomePod does. You can even exit the app and it will continue to play on the active playlist - because this isn't AirPlay playback, just remote control :)

I spent ~2 hours on the phone with Apple support trying to get this working until they admitted it won't.
Even if there is a way somewhere, this should be easy to find, klick one button and go.
That's totally on Apple. They should make it better to surface it.

How? That's the 1B$ question. You need to cater to all the different kinds of needs and expectations, which is the hard part.
 

gnirkatto

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@Ed7789
Thank you for extensive testing & reporting.
There are a couple of issues with this process, but I can't really dig into it, as I do no longer have the Home Pod (as you stated already).
My intention too was not to only complain but to give others a hint on potential problems to be expected, and to potentially have others (like you) provide solutions, if available.
Even if I COULD try your solutions, they would be too complicated for me to support my daily easy music listening preferences. So I'm still OK with having returned the Home Pod.
On your question about "How? The 1B$ question..." - I wonder how Sonos did all that I couldn't get going in the Apple world, easy to understand, easy to find, easy to access, and working like a charm. Even when playing from Apple Music! Why can't Apple?

But again, thanks to your efforts, we now have a thread with issues and solutions, which others may appreciate.
 

gnirkatto

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I understand that you are disappointed and frustrated but this is unnecessary!
I replied because of totally irrelevant and false statements, which were unnecessary if the poster had read and wanted to understand what I tried to say.
Such statements do not add any value.
But I understand you don't want this to be said here - so I'm considering to change from interaction mode to read only.
From time to time, you run into such people here, who don't want to contribute but ridicule others and enjoy driving others mad. If it's generally unwanted to counter these statements, this is no longer the right place for me.
There is too much of that kind out there these days (and much worse, of course), and I do not really always want to deal with this, nor to get educated when I feel the need after all.
 

Annie_M

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I replied because of totally irrelevant and false statements, which were unnecessary if the poster had read and wanted to understand what I tried to say.
Such statements do not add any value.
But I understand you don't want this to be said here - so I'm considering to change from interaction mode to read only.
From time to time, you run into such people here, who don't want to contribute but ridicule others and enjoy driving others mad. If it's generally unwanted to counter these statements, this is no longer the right place for me.
There is too much of that kind out there these days (and much worse, of course), and I do not really always want to deal with this, nor to get educated when I feel the need after all.
I certainly hope you don't refrain from posting, but you need to remember that we are all volunteers here and trying to help you. As a Moderator, it's my duty to step in and "moderate" when things get personal.
 

EdwinG

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@Ed7789
My intention too was not to only complain but to give others a hint on potential problems to be expected, and to potentially have others (like you) provide solutions, if available.
Understandable :)
On your question about "How? The 1B$ question..." - I wonder how Sonos did all that I couldn't get going in the Apple world, easy to understand, easy to find, easy to access, and working like a charm. Even when playing from Apple Music! Why can't Apple?
Sonos needs to support exactly one feature… controlling their devices.

Apple needs to support that, and streaming from their devices to speakers (AirPlay), and local library management, music purchasing, and all the more legacy features (like CD Burning/Ripping).

It’s a more complicated equation for Apple than it is for Sonos. I do agree that they can and should do a better job to make it more straightforward.
But again, thanks to your efforts, we now have a thread with issues and solutions, which others may appreciate.
You’re welcome :)
 

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