Sonos busts out new Beam sound bar, plus AirPlay 2 support

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sonos beam
Sonos Beam is sleek but packs a punch.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos is making a power play to take over your living room with its latest smart speaker called Sonos Beam.

Beam is a new sound bar that is smaller than Sonos’ Playbar and Playbase, but it also packs some new features like a five-microphone array and it plays well with Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and of course, Siri.

Watch out HomePod, this thing looks amazing:

iOS 11.4 adds AirPlay controls to Siri

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Siri do not disturb
You can now use Siri on your iPhone to control music on your HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple is about to let Siri control your AirPlay speakers.

As part of the latest beta for iOS 11.4, Apple has added the ability to use AirPlay commands through Siri, allowing users to use Siri on their iPhone to play something on their HomePod.

iOS 11.4 public beta arrives with AirPlay 2

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Apple HomePod smart speaker
AirPlay 2.0 makes HomePod even better.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

HomePod owners no longer need to be a developer to test AirPlay 2.

Apple seeded the first public beta of iOS 11.4 to testers today, allowing anyone who signs up for the beta testing program to play with some of the new features coming out later this spring.

How to create a sleep playlist for your HomePod

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Siri speaker
Look into my eye. You are feeling sleepy…
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

This tip is less of a how-to, and more of a why-to. Did you ever think about creating a sleep playlist for your HomePod? It’s a great idea for a few reasons.

  • You can control the HomePod with your voice, from your bed.
  • The HomePod is silent when it’s not playing back audio, so you don’t have to turn it off or listen to it hiss.

Let’s see how it’s done.

Stream audio from iOS to multiple HomePods with AirFoil

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HomePod
AirFoil is the missing link between your Mac and your HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Do you want to stream music from an app on your Mac to your HomePod? Good luck with that. The only app that supports AirPlay streaming is iTunes, and what’s the point in using that if you can stream your iCloud Music Library directly using the HomePod alone? For apps like Spotify, or VLC, you can resort to streaming your entire Mac system audio via Airplay, but then you have to listen alerts booming through the HomePod, and you can’t remote-control the Spotify Audio using Siri.

But if you use Rogue Amoeba’s AirFoil, you can fix all these problems.

20 HomePod tips you need to know

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The HomePod is a lot smarter than you might think. Just take a look at these tips!
The HomePod is a smarter speaker than you might think.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The HomePod takes a lot of flak for being the dumbest smart speaker around, but it can do more than you might think. In today’s video, I’ll show you 20 HomePod tips you need to know.

(Just a quick heads-up: I’m going to be saying “Hey Siri” a few times in this video.)

How to adjust EQ on HomePod

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HomePod Siri Speaker
The HomePod automatically adjusts it EQ to suit the music and the room.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Theoretically, you shouldn’t have to adjust the sound of the music playing to your HomePod. Between all the fancy music processing, and the HomePod’s ability to tailor its audio to the size and shape of your room, music should come out sounding pretty great already. But that doesn’t account for taste. Maybe you like a whole lot of extra bass? Or maybe a certain frequency is booming in your room, and the HomePod isn’t doing anything about it.

Then you should try equalization — tweaking the balance of audio frequencies put out by the speaker. The bad news is that the HomePod offers no native EQ. The good news is that it’s easy to adjust on your Mac or iPhone.

Looks like multi-room AirPlay just got further away

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HomePod speaker
Multi-room audio won't be coming anytime soon.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

One of the best features for Apple’s new HomePod appears to be facing some big delays.

AirPlay 2.0 promises to give HomePod users the ability to stream the same song to different devices in different rooms from a single iPhone. But with the release of iOS 11.3 beta 3 this morning, Apple has decided to pull the feature from testing.