HomePod mini breaks out in a burst of colors

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HomePod mini breaks out in a burst of colors
HomePod mini will soon debut in three new colors: orange, yellow, and blue. That’s in addition to white and space gray.
Photo: Apple

Apple Unleashed event bugThere’s good news for those bored by the HomePod mini’s color options. Apple just announced at Monday’s “Unleashed” event that its smart speaker will soon be available in three additional hues.

The price isn’t going up. But there’ll be a wait to order the fresh options.

Apple Music gets a ‘Voice Plan’ that costs just $4.99 a month

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Apple Music Voice Plan
Ideal for HomePod users on a budget.
Photo: Apple

Apple Unleashed event bug Apple Music is now more affordable for those who agree not to use buttons. A new “Voice Plan,” unveiled Monday during Apple’s big “Unleashed” event, lets you access the entire Apple Music catalog using only your voice for just $4.99 a month.

That’s half the price of a regular Apple Music subscription — and it might just be ideal for HomePod users.

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

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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.

iPhone 13 and iPad mini: The good, the bad, the ugly! [The CultCast]

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The CultCast 511: Early iPhone 13 and iPad mini reviews leave us asking,
Early iPhone 13 and iPad mini reviews leave us asking, "That all ya got, Apple?"
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: The early reviews are in — let’s talk about the best and worst parts of iPhone 13, 13 Pro and the iPad mini. Plus: Apple is prepping yet another great feature coming soon to your HomePod — it ain’t dead yet, baby!

Lossless audio and Dolby Atmos return to HomePod in 15.1 beta

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Apple Music lossless audio coming to HomePod, HomePod mini
But you need an invite to get it.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s newest HomePod beta, issued alongside the iOS and iPadOS 15.1 betas on Tuesday, brings back lossless audio and Dolby Atmos support. Both features can be enabled from inside the Home app, but only if you have an invite.

Apple has been working to bring its newest audio features to HomePod speakers for a while now. It first began testing them shortly after WWDC 2021 in June when the third HomePod 15 beta was made available to testers.

Design concept dreams of ‘HomePod TV’ and ‘HomePod Show’

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The HomePod TV would pair great audio with great TV.
The HomePod TV concept would pair great audio with great TV.
Photo: www.handy.abovergleich.ch designed by Eric Huismann

Apple’s original HomePod, the big smart speaker that predated the HomePod mini, lasted less than three years on the market. It never became a hit for the Cupertino tech giant. But a new design concept from a Swiss outfit imagines it coming back in two new forms.

Netflix gets more immersive with Spatial Audio support

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Spatial audio for Apple TV in tvOS 15
Netflix beats Apple TV to the punch.
Photo: Apple

Netflix has begun rolling out Spatial Audio support. This lets the streaming service offer a surround sound-like experience but without all the speakers. Currently, it requires AirPods Pro or AirPods Max but that’ll change soon.

And Netflix beat out Apple TV in offering the feature.

Apple TV, HomePod combo on the way to combat weak living room strategy

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Apple TV 4K reviews: Finally more than a hobby?
But we'll have to wait a while for it.
Photo: Apple

Apple TV engineers say “there isn’t much optimism” over the company’s weak living room hardware strategy, but there plans to change it with new devices, according to a new report from one reliable reporter.

Cupertino is still planning a combined Apple TV, HomePod and FaceTime camera — but it is not expected to appear until “around 2023.”

HomePod smart speaker had a great quarter in the US

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HomePod mini
The HomePod mini likely had a lot to do with it.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

HomePod shipments in the United States increased 180% year-on-year in the last quarter, eclipsing the growth of smart speaker makers Amazon and Google during the period, market intelligence firm Omdia reports.

While Apple still lags behind the other two companies on shipments, it is looking more competitive than it has at any point in the history of the HomePod so far. That’s particularly impressive when considering that this was a rough three-month period for smart speakers in the US, whose growth is stalling.