Apple could combine HomePod speaker, Apple TV and smart camera for ultimate smart home device

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HomePod in China
Apple's got an intriguing concept for a next-gen smart home device.
Photo: Apple

Apple is working on a new smart home product that would combine Apple TV, a HomePod speaker and a camera for FaceTime or Zoom-style video conferencing, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The company “has been a laggard in the smart-home space, but [this] versatile new device in early development could change that,” according to the story, which describes the in-development product as “Apple’s most ambitious smart-home hardware offering to date.”

How to change Siri’s accent on iPhone, iPad and more

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australian siri
Changing Siri's accent is easy.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Most folks refer to Siri as “she,” but that’s not always true. The original British English Siri, for example, was male-only up until iOS 7.1 added a female version. And in the latest iOS 14.5 beta, a female Siri is not the default option.

No matter what, you don’t have to stick with your local version of Apple’s comically bad voice assistant. U.S. English speakers, for example, can currently choose from American, Australian, British, Indian, Irish and South African accents for Siri, and also pick male or female versions — with more voices coming soon.

So, if you’re a U.S. native who views the U.K. Standard English accent as quaint, cute, respectful, sexy or reproachful, it’s easy to set your iPhone or iPad to sound like a Brit or whatever you want. And your choice of Siri accent will follow you on all Apple devices logged into with your Apple ID. (In addition to iPhone and iPad, Siri works with just about everything now: Mac, AirPods, iPod, Apple Watch, CarPlay, HomePod and Apple TV.)

Let’s see how to change Siri’s accent.

Save $44 on a brand-new HomePod before they’re gone for good

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HomePod speaker
Enjoy $44.25 off the usual price.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has discontinued the original HomePod — easily the best-sounding smart speaker money can buy. But it’s not quite gone yet. Bag your brand-new model today for just $254.75, a generous $44.25 off the usual price.

You get a phenomenal audio experience, AirPlay 2 for easy streaming, and built-in Siri.

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HomePod mini features ‘secret’ sensor that’s waiting to be activated

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First HomePod mini reviews: Better late than never
Apple recently pulled the plug on the full-size HomePod to focus on its smaller sibling.
Photo: Apple

The HomePod mini has a hidden capability that Apple has yet to put into action: a sensor that measures both temperature and humidity.

According to Bloomberg, the sensor could be used to trigger smart home actions, such as turning a fan on or off depending on the temperature. It’s not clear why Apple has not yet activated the sensor so customers can utilize the feature — or when it might do so.

R.I.P HomePod [Cult of Mac Magazine 393]

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R.I.P. HomePod.
Apple buries another beloved product.
Cover: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Pour one out for our homie, the HomePod.

Apple recently pulled the plug on its sweet-sounding smart speaker, and the move is definitely not music to our ears. In fact, it calls into question Apple’s strategy of releasing — and then rudely abandoning — expensive, niche products. Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel on that.

Find out why we hope that never happens again in this week’s free issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. Download it to enjoy on iPhone or iPad, or get the stories below in your browser.

HomePod failure shows Apple should quit making pricey niche products

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homepod
Watch out, AirPods Max! You might be next.
Photo: Apple

After throwing in the towel on the original HomePod after just three years, Apple should stop releasing pricey, niche products.

They don’t sell well — at least not well enough to keep Apple interested, apparently — and it’s not fair to consumers who shell out big bucks, then get stuck with a product that vanishes after just one generation.

Yes, Apple says it will continue to support the full-size HomePod with software updates, even as it refocuses on the $99 HomePod mini. But the old-school HomePod is a dead-end product.

You can read the HomePod debacle as an admission of failure regarding Apple’s framing of the device as a smart speaker rather than high-end audio gear. But it’s more than that. It’s an illustration of Apple’s faltering strategy of creating premium products for niche corners of the market.

When the music stops: Apple discontinues full-size HomePod

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The HomePod -- a beautiful body with the brain of an idiot.
The originally HomePod is going away but the HomePod mini is going strong.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The $299 version of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has been discontinued. The company is already selling out of its remaining supply.

But that doesn’t mean Apple is getting out of the smart speaker business — it’s pleased with the launch of the more affordable HomePod mini.

Guitar-wielding student marshals nifty light show [Setups]

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Nanoleaf Shapes give you interesting lighting options.
Nanoleaf Shapes give you interesting lighting options.
Photo: arnaki_gkioulmpasi@reddit

If one thing catches your eye first about Redditor arnaki_gkioulmpasi’s setup, it’s probably the interesting light show on the wall behind it. That array is made up of Nanoleaf Shapes that can be arranged any which way.

Those cool-looking lights, along with a Yeelight Screen Light Bar Pro atop the Dell 32-inch curved 4K monitor and a standing lamp next to the desk, keep eyestrain to a minimum.

Garage-based man cave and home office relies on a killer screen [Setups]

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In this setup, an LG curved monitor is great for work as well as movies and TV.
In this setup, an LG curved monitor is great for work as well as movies and TV.
Photo: Paul O'Toole

An IT professional who specializes in Mac and iOS home implementations probably has a leg up on the next guy when it comes to building an Apple-centric home office and man cave.

Or is it a man cave and home office? We’ll let Paul O’Toole, an IT pro from Worcestershire, England, decide that. It’s his, after all. He calls it a “sitting room,” actually.

He turned his garage into an office and movie palace, thanks to an LG 34UC99 curved monitor and a pair of HomePods running with his Mac Pro.