| Cult of Mac

Insiders are buzzing about Apple’s upcoming headset [The CultCast]

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CultCast 595: AI-generated image of Apple CEO Tim Cook wearing an AR/VR headset, along with the CultCast logo.
No, Apple's headset likely won't look like this AI-generated image.
Image: Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: Well-placed sources say Apple’s AR/VR headset blew them away. Even the guy who dreamed up the Oculus Rift says it’s great.

The more we hear about the device nobody seems to need, the more intrigued we become. And with WWDC23 just weeks away, we don’t have long to wait for answers to our questions. In the meantime, we can imagine the possibilities …

Also on The CultCast:

  • How Apple’s M3 chip will stack up against its predecessors.
  • Five hidden features in iMessage that you should try ASAP.
  • Erfon finally gives us an update on his beloved, but beleaguered, original HomePod.

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video live stream, embedded below.

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A HomePod with special skills + Tim Cook’s VR power play [The CultCast]

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AI-generated image of a HomePod smart speaker with an embedded display.
No, the next-gen HomePod isn't gonna look like this. AI can't do everything! (At least not yet.)
Image: Midjourney/Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: That old rumor about a HomePod with a built-in display for FaceTime calls and smart-home wizardry resurfaces. But this time, some fresh details make Erfon even more cranked up than usual about Apple’s smart speaker.

Also on The CultCast:

  • It sounds like Tim Cook pulled a power move on Apple’s design team to make sure the company foists an expensive AR/VR headset on the masses sooner rather than later. Who’s excited? Show of hands?!?
  • Apple TV+ racks up another Oscar, and Erfon is almost intrigued enough to resubscribe. (Especially if his “get three months free” trick works again.)
  • The baton’s about to wave on Apple Music Classical. We’re all quivering with excitement!

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video live stream, embedded below.

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Apple working on a HomePod with 7-inch display for 2024

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HomePod with a 7-inch display concept
Apple has a HomePod-branded smart display in the works.
Concept: Rajesh/Cult of Mac

Apple could launch its first smart display as soon as next year. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple is preparing a HomePod with a 7-inch display for H1 2024.

Launching a smart display under the HomePod branding is seemingly a part of Apple’s new smart home strategy.

Sorry, HomePod! Sonos speakers add Apple Music’s spatial audio.

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The new Sonos Era 300 features a new look and support for Apple Music's spatial audio.
The new Sonos Era 300 features a new look and support for Apple Music's spatial audio.
Photo: Sonos

Alongside the release of its new Era 300 and Era 100 speakers, Sonos said Tuesday it will “add support for spatial audio on Apple Music in what will be a significant expansion of its next-gen sound experience offerings.”

The company said customers can access spatial audio on Apple Music via the Era 300 and two older Sonos speaker systems starting in three weeks — Tuesday, March 28 (the new speakers’ shipping date).

iOS 16.4’s best new features and an iPhone security hack you need ASAP [The CultCast]

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Coming Soon in iOS 16.4: CultCast title page.
Join us for a rundown of what you can expect in iOS 16.4.
Image: Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: iOS 16.4 doesn’t look earth-shattering or anything, but there are some cool new features coming.

Also on The CultCast:

  • You need to toggle this switch on your iPhone ASAP so thieves don’t ruin your life.
  • Working for Apple’s secret Exploratory Design Group sounds like a dream job.
  • We’re giving away a very fancy backpack from Harber London.
  • Erfon put his new HomePod stereo pair to the test in a head-to-head audio smackdown with the originals. The results are … disappointing.
  • Windows users get a little taste of iMessage goodness. But just a taste!

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video live stream, embedded below.

HomePod 2: Does it sound better or worse than the original?

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Erfon Elijah comparing the new HomePod (left) to the original (right).
Erfon puts the new HomePod (left) head to head with the original (right). And I must say, I love the shirt.
Photo: Erfon Elijah

The CultCast host Erfon Elijah finally got our hands on the coveted HomePod 2 speakers. He put the 2023 model head-to-head with the 2018 model the way it’s meant to be enjoyed: in a stereo pair.

The new HomePod comes loaded with new features: smart home connectivity, a brighter top panel, a U1 chip, temperature and humidity sensors … but the big question is, how does it sound?

New Sonos Era smart speakers take direct aim at HomePod

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The Sonos Era 300 is the larger and better-equipped of the two new smart speakers.
The Sonos Era 300 is the larger and better-equipped of the two new smart speakers.
Photo: Sonos

A new leak indicates Sonos will release its new Sonos Era 100 and 300 smart speakers in March with a slew of features that challenge Apple’s recently relaunched HomePod.

Of the two new Sonos speakers, the pricier Era 300 features a version of spatial audio. Both support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB-C line-in for versatile connectivity. The Era 100 is likely to replace the much-liked Sonos One, launched in 2017.

HomePod 2 teardown reveals it’s far easier to repair than the original

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HomePod 2 teardown reveals it's far easier to repair than the original
Disassembling a HomePod 2 requires a screwdriver, not a saw.
Screenshot: iFixit/Creative Electron

A teardown video from iFixit shows that getting into the recently launched HomePod 2 is dramatically easier than opening up its predecessor. That’s going to make repairing the new smart speaker far simpler.

The video is an interesting deep dive for anyone who just wants a glimpse inside the latest HomePod.

Will new HomePod dazzle our ears like the original? We hope so. [The CultCast]

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Two HomePods and the logo for
We've got our ears all cleaned out and ready to listen.
Image: Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: The first reviews of the 2023 HomePod make Apple’s updated smart speaker sound pretty formidable. We can’t wait to hear for ourselves. (Unfortunately, if you didn’t already place your HomePod order, you’re probably looking at a substantial hang time.)

Also on The CultCast:

  • An iPad with a folding screen might be just around the corner.
  • Retina alert: Apple Watch Ultra might get an even bigger, brighter screen next year.
  • Former Apple design chief Jony Ive’s latest creation is … a bright red nose!

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video live stream, embedded below.

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HomePod 2 review roundup: Great sound but no giant leap forward

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A second-generation HomePod and a hand holding an iPhone.
The new HomePod looks almost exactly like the original, but it packs definite improvements.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of the updated HomePod say the new smart speaker sounds excellent but doesn’t break much new ground.

Compared to Apple’s original smart speaker, the second-generation HomePod is more of an asset in a smart home than before. However, the device’s limitations on playing music from third-party sources mean that the home in question better be an Apple household.