Apple's Much Anticipated Update to iOS 11 Addresses Prior Shortcoming for Multi-Room Support for a More Immersive and Complete Audio Experience Throughout Your Home
When Apple's smart speaker HomePod first came out, we were excited to test out its acoustic performance and integration with existing Apple systems. HomePod has an impressive subwoofer for a clean bass sound and provides directional control to more accurately convey the original richness of sound in any audio recording. This is a massive improvement to the smart speaker space with high fidelity sound and a larger sound stage.
Play and Control Music in Any Room
By adding AirPlay 2 software to the HomePod via iOS 11.4, HomePod can now play sound in multiple rooms throughout your home. You can control music playing in any room, on HomePod, Apple TV or any iOS device. You can also increase your sound stage by adding a second HomePod for a richer acoustic experience to fill any room with sound and more accurately reproduce lower frequencies such as deeper bass extensions.
With AirPlay 2, you can play music in any room, move music from one room to another, or play the same song in multiple rooms using an iOS device through an app or Control Center, the Apple TV, the HomePod or by using Siri voice commands. You can access AirPlay 2 controls within any app and also in the Control Center on an iOS device running iOS 11.4 by swiping up. In the Control Center, you will see a list of all available AirPlay 2 devices in your home. You can send audio to a single device, to multiple devices, or switch audio between devices.
Richer Sound Reproduction via HomePod Pairing
Equipped with a powerful A8 chip in each speaker, HomePod can play its own audio channel, left or right and separate out ambient and direct energy. This creates a fuller, almost three dimensional soundstage for any room. Stereo pairing works via an Apple-designed wireless peer-to-peer direct link that enables communication between two or more HomePods and to play music in sync. The two speakers act as one when paired, and only one HomePod responds to Siri requests.
Setting up HomePod pairs is easy as you will receive a prompt with a popup interface to pair your HomePods if you have more than one. The same information is also available in the HomePod's settings in the Home app. In the Settings menu, menu, tap on Create stereo pair. Then select another HomePod, choose your room, and assign left and right channels to each HomePod. Set up is almost instantaneous and you can benefit from a richer sound immediately. Paired HomePods offer a richer room-filling sound experience with a deeper bass and louder sound.
If the song you are playing supports stereo sound, you can distinctly hear different instruments being played on each HomePod. This experience is further enhanced if you connect to an Apple TV.
High Fidelity Audio Playback and Improved Podcast Acoustic Experience
Elf has been featured as a premier partner for audio streaming services in Ad Age for the last four years. We also offer audio services for our clients and have worked on high fidelity audio integration with leading automotive companies.
AirPlay 2, Multi-Room Audio and Syncing with Other Speakers
What we are most excited about is AirPlay 2 functionality as this extends wireless use of your HomePod(s) to multiple rooms and enables connections to other speakers you may have such as Bower & Wilkins, Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer and Sonos. You can listen to your existing music collection, stream new music and listen to podcasts anywhere in your home in sync with your speakers.
The Control Center offers a quick view of what’s playing in every room and simple controls to adjust volume and more. When you select a single HomePod, you can play music in that room. Adding another HomePod, enables multi-room audio. When you have chosen two HomePods, each one receives its own volume slider for granular volume control. In addition, there is a master volume slider to adjust both speakers simultaneously.
You can also play music via YouTube or other streaming method. You will be prompted to choose the HomePod speaker for playback.
AirPlay 2 controls are available across iOS within any app and in Control Center for quick access to what’s playing in every room, on every speaker. Apple Music subscribers can also ask Siri to play different songs in different rooms or the same song everywhere, without ever leaving the room.
In addition, this synchronization addresses prior connection issues and lag while streaming audio and helps to ensure a better acoustic experience. You can ask Siri to play music in any room right from an iOS device or by asking Siri on HomePod.
Siri integrates well with Apple Music and with growing playlists and users, Siri's knowledge of music has increased.
Set Up and How to Update Your HomePod
Set up is easy as the new HomePod software is installed automatically on the HomePod after you update to iOS 11.4. to update your phone, go to the Settings app → General → Software Update.
After you update your iPhone to iOS 11.4, you can also navigate to the Home app, tap Edit and tap on HomePod > Details to go into its settings. Then tap Update Software.
If your HomePod is set up to automatically download and install new firmware, the latest version should already be installed on the device. After you have all your updates installed, Multi-room audio should just work right out of the box.
Start playing music on any iOS device and then select the HomePod. Any speakers you have that are compatible with AirPlay 2 will show up in a pop-up menu with a small checkbox next to them. You can choose multiple speakers to all play the same song from your iPhone or iPad. Apple Music integrates very well with multi-room audio via HomePods.
HomePod is available in the U.S., U.K. and Australia and will be available in Canada, France and Germany starting June 18.
We expect more coverage about the HomePod updates in WWDC this upcoming Monday June 4, 2018. You can see our prior coverage from last here on the HomePod, podcasts and more here.
We'll be watching and covering WWDC on Monday!