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HomePod mini helps Apple nearly double smart speaker sales


HomePod mini
HomePod mini is the second best selling smart speaker globally.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The debut of HomePod mini brought a big jump in sales that continues almost a year later. Shipments of Apple’s smart speakers increased a whopping 92% last quarter when compared to the same period of 2020.

And HomePod mini was the second best selling smart speaker globally.

HomePod gets podcast bug fix via software tweak


HomePod gets podcast bug fix via software tweak
HomePod Software 15.1.1 brings a small update to Apple smart speakers.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

If your HomePod has had problems playing podcasts recently, it might need the software update Apple released Wednesday. It brings the full-size and pint-size audio devices up to version 15.1.1.

It doesn’t include any new features, though.

New HomePod software chief tasked with making Apple smart speaker more competitive


HomePod mini
A new head of HomePod software development making make Apple’s smart speaker smarter.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple reportedly hired Afrooz Family as its new head of software development for the HomePod. He’s supposedly been tasked with making the smart speaker a stronger rival for Amazon’s and Google’s products.

That would be something of a turnaround for the product.

Rejoice, audiophiles: Apple Music lossless audio is coming to HomePod, HomePod mini


Apple Music lossless audio coming to HomePod, HomePod mini
HomePod and HomePod mini will be able to take advantage of a significant improvement coming to Apple Music.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple smart speakers will be able to play Apple Music’s lossless audio after an upcoming software update. Both HomePod and HomePod mini will get support for the high-quality audio format, according to Apple.

This is good news for HomePod owners who may have been feeling disgruntled about being left out of a signature new Apple Music feature.

HomePod 14.2.1 software update fixes bugs


HomePod Software Version 14.2.1 is out.
HomePod owners can install an update to Software Version 14.2.1.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Both sizes of Apple’s smart speaker got an update to HomePod Software Version 14.2.1 on Monday. The new system software promises just general improvements. It’s not yet known if that includes squashing a reported bug in Wi-Fi connectivity for the HomePod mini.

Cheaper HomePod, improved AirPods could arrive in 2020


Apple could finally bring noise cancellation to AirPods.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

A more affordable version of the struggling HomePod smart speaker will debut next year, according to a generally reliable source. Apple is also reportedly going to introduce AirPods with noise cancellation in 2020.

Both are products that consumers have been asking for.

AirPods won’t escape Trump’s tariffs this time


Bluetooth in iOS 11
Apple will have to pay import taxes on AirPods starting next month.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Not all Apple devices will escape the taxes being levied next month on goods imported from China. The Trump Administration decided to delay tariffs on iPhone, iPad and Mac, but other popular products will still get slapped with a 10% import tax, including Apple Watch, AirPods and HomePod

Smart speaker installed base could top 200 million this year


HomePod Volume Controls
Perhaps a rising tide of smart speaker sales will help HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The number of smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod in use around the world is expected to keep growing strongly for years to come. It could pass 200 million in 2019, and pass 500 million in 2023.

Analysts from Canalys indicate the installed base of these devices is now surpassing the number of smartwatches in use. And smart speakers could even outnumber tablets before the end of 2021, they say.