| Cult of Mac

How to get the HomePod 16.3 update with loads of new features

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How to reset HomePod and HomePod mini
Here’s how to be sure you have the latest HomePod software update. Or stop your smart speaker from updating.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Your HomePod is a lot more than a simple speaker — it’s a whole computer. And like any computer it has an operating system that needs occasional updates. Here’s how to make sure your Apple smart speaker has the software version released on Tuesday.

This is a major update, as the new version 16.3 enables some “hidden” sensors in HomePod mini and makes other significant changes. Those who use HomePod as the hub for a smart home absolutely should not miss out.

Apple is not actively working on a HomePod mini 2

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HomePod mini
Apple is not working on a HomePod mini successor for now.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Although the HomePod mini played a key role in helping Apple make inroads in the smart speaker market, the company is reportedly not working on a second-generation model.

Apple launched the HomePod mini in October 2020 with a $99 price tag, which made it much more affordable than the full-size speaker.

HomePod head-to-head: How Apple’s new smart speaker compares to original

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Is the new HomePod really that different from the 2018 HomePod? Yes and no.
Is the new HomePod really that different from the 2018 HomePod? Yes and no.
Photo: Apple

Now that the full-size HomePod is finally back, just how different is it from Apple’s original smart speaker? At a glance, you might not think the $299 speaker Apple unveiled Wednesday is that different at all, because the exterior design looks so similar. But compare the new HomePod’s features to the old model, and you’ll find significant changes.

It seems potentially much-improved as a smart home device, but whether it’s a better speaker is questionable.

Mac mini and MacBook Pro trade off in student rig [Setups]

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Both a MacBook Pro and a Mac mini drive this setup.
Both a MacBook Pro and a Mac mini drive this setup.
Photo: hyqmavericks@Reddit.com

Back in our day — when we walked 5 miles uphill to school both ways — students were lucky to have plywood on cinderblocks for a desk and a laptop weighing, oh, let’s say 25 pounds (we’re too old to remember things).

Nowadays, these kids have pretty swanky computer setups with desktop machines you could toss in a knapsack. Today’s featured item boasts a Mac mini, a MacBook Pro, a 4K display, Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2 and a Lego building set to die for.

We bet you haven’t seen a 3-display rig quite like this one [Setups]

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The little monitor at the bottom is the odd bit.
The little display at the bottom of the stack is the unusual bit.
Photo: CenTexEDC@Reddit.com

Display towers — when monitors are stacked on top of each other — aren’t super common in computer setups. But they’re not terribly rare, either. From time to time we’ve even seen three stacked horizontally in the middle with two posted vertically on the sides. But today’s featured triple-display MacBook Pro setup sports an unusual choice at its base.

You can’t miss the 49-inch Samsung curved ultra-wide screen in the middle and the nice 34-inch LG 4K display on top. But at the bottom lurks a TidByt, which is a retro display for sports scores, stock prices and more. We don’t recall seeing one featured in a setup.

Coder suffers crippling doubts over just-upgraded display [Setups]

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It's not always clear right away if you chose the best display for you.
It's not always clear right away if you chose the best display for you.
Photo: schmob@Reddit.com

A new external display for your computer setup is usually a joy to behold. It is, after all, what you look at most. And you probably just replaced your old one with a bigger, brighter and more beautiful new one. But sometimes buyer’s remorse creeps in. Is it actually the best screen for your needs that you can afford?

Today’s featured setup comes from a software coder who has started to have doubts about a substantial recent monitor purchase. Will he succumb to them? He’s keeping his eye on the return deadline and asking for advice.

‘Tower of power’ spurs cable-clutter debate over otherwise-clean rig [Setups]

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Plenty to see here, but the
Plenty to see here, but the "tower for power" in the corner drew most of the attention.
Photo: PlaZma64@Reddit.com

Some people care deeply about cable management, with nary a cord to be seen in their computer setups. Others couldn’t care less about it, leaving wire-spaghetti all over the place. And folks in the middle want to do it right, but meh, maybe next week, and maybe only somewhat.

Today’s featured MacBook Pro and iPad Pro setup stakes out much of the ground described above. Cable management is in play, but it’s done in a way that drove some neatniks crazy while others applauded the controlled mayhem.

Home automation gets smarter for Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini owners

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HomePod mini is one of the devices that can be a Thread 1.3.0 border router.
HomePod mini is one of the devices that can be a Thread 1.3.0 border router.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

A major Thread networking standard update Tuesday brings the Matter home automation technology standard a step closer for those who already own certain devices. Namely, gear that can act as a border router in the smart home — like Apple TV 4K and HomePod mini.

Thread 1.3.0 lets Thread devices work with any other Thread border router. That’s big because Thread will be Matter’s main wireless protocol, along with Wi-Fi.

Why downgrade from a massive, curved ultra-wide monitor? [Setups]

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Sometimes it makes sense to walk back your choice of a massive monitor.
Sometimes it makes sense to walk back your choice of a massive monitor.
Photo: writtensine6@Reddit.com

You might think you’d give your right arm for one of those stunning, 49-inch curved ultra-wide monitors to use with your Mac. But then again, you might end up begging for your appendage back, as well as your old display. Or at least something a little less colossal.

Minus the stray arm — as far as we know — that’s more-or-less what happened with today’s featured MacBook Pro-based setup.