Homepod - let's get this started...


Searched and nothing on Apple Homepod yet so I'll start this inevitable discussion.

I see the Homepod announcement as an opportunity for Sonos rather than an end. Now that they know what the Apple play in this area is, Sonos has little choice but to move more aggressively in a direction that may be better for most of it's present and future customers. That direction, in my opinion, is one of greater openness, increased integration with Google Home, Amazon Echo and other "smart home" technologies and an overall increased pace of innovation.

As someone who is quite heavily invested in Sonos, I look forward to watching this play out.

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35 replies

Userlevel 2
To sum it up. HomePod is not the right choice for home owners. It might be the right one for one room but it can't 'rock the house' as promised. I have no idea what Apple engineers thought about developing a single speaker without LAN and Fiber interfaces. I am operating about 10 zones in my home and I am loving the superbe TV integration and the full clear sound. How should I make a Home Theater installation with Apples HomePod without connecting it to the TV? How can I connect the speakers to my home ethernet in order to create a reliable and stable music network without destroying my WiFi bandwidth? How can I add some bass power in larger rooms (don't tell me this is not necessary)?
Dear Sonos developers. Please be open to AirPlay and AirPlay 2. Please try to integrate the beloved Apple ecosystem as good as possible. We want to use your excellent sound devices together with the beautiful Apple software like Siri and HomeKit.
Userlevel 1
I, like many of other Apple users, have incorporated Apple ecosystem including HomeKit into my life. It is clear that home automation is still at infancy and will require even smarter control software. But now that Apple has declared its interest in entering the home automation competition (against Google/Amazon/others) I will be sticking with Apple-led solutions from now on.

I started investing in Sonos products only a year ago (3 x Play:1 so far). I did plan on getting a couple more Sonos products (Play:3 or 5, and Playbar), but I will hold off on those purchases until I figure out where Sonos is heading. If Sonos is not interested in full-integration with Apple ecosystem including HomeKit, I will have to leave Sonos and find other products that will. It is a lot easier to find good speaker solutions than to find a good home automation control system, and it just does not make sense to invest in a speaker solution that has half-baked integration support for Apple ecosystem.

I imagine many other Apple users who have just started getting into Sonos (or have plans to invest in Sonos) feel the same way.
Just be aware that a lot of Sonos users and potential Sonos users are NOT invested in the Apple ecosystem and in fact do not like Apple products and software. Sonos needs to be careful before committing limited ROM resources to firmaware that supports Apple features at the expense of limiting or eliminating other features that are used by the entire Sonos community.

An Apple user can still benefit from the Amazon Echo integration simply by buying a $39 Echo Dot. I don't see where somebody who does not use Apple products can benefit to the same degree from a HomeKit integration.
Hoping for Homekit integration. We are fairly invested in Sonos...play bar, sub, threes for surround (living Room), a play 5, and a couple of play 1's. We planned on another 5 and a couple more 1's (that's on hold). We are also a big Apple user and other than Sonos we don't have smart home components that are not HomeKit compatible.(no Alexa for us)

I imagine other Apple/Sonos fans are in the same boat. We're waiting too see how this plays out, but if Sonos doesn't move toward being HomeKit compatible we'll eventually shift toward a more completely integrated system. I figure there is a little time to figure this out. Apple didn't introduce a good 5:1 solution or some missing speaker gap (outdoor speakers), if Sonos responds with a HomeKit in the next year...I'll buy more. I'll likely buy 1 home pod in Dec if Sonos doesn't have a plan by then our Play 1's maybe our play 5 will be on notice.
The most important advantages, besides multiroom, is homekit integration. With this it would be possible to start, stop, play, pause, select playlist etc. bases on events/scenes.

For instance create an wake up homekit scene:
1. run Philips Hue sunrise scene
2. Activate switch to turn on the coffeemachine
3. Open the blinds in the livingroom
4. turn on radio/playlist on the speakers

Leaving the home
1. Turn of the Philips Hue bulbs
2. Turn of the coffeemachine
3. Close the blinds
4. Turn of, stop or pauze the speakers

Coming home on friday night
1. Turn on the Philips Hue bulbs
2. Open the blinds
3. Play playlist Late night Jazz from spotify on the speakers

Watching an movie on netflix (via apple tv)
1. Dim the Philips Hue lights
2. Close the blinds
3. Pauze the music on thespeakers

When an homekit detected notices an danger (leakage, smoke, fire, carbonmoxide etc)
1. Flash the lights
2. Play an alarm message on the peakers (waterleakage in the basement, carbonmoxide in the garage etc.)
I too have a heavy investment in Sonos, so I hope provides an opportunity to add other great features to what I consider the best wireless speaker on the market.
Ouch! Misses the Christmas season. Somehow Apple will convince their fans Valentines Day is a bigger holiday.
Something tells me if Sonos had delayed release until it was fully tested, and Apple had released their Homepods with bugs, the same people complaining about Sonos being buggy would be crucifying Sonos for missing a promised release date and praising Apple for at least giving them something. Let's face it, their act is not too difficult to figure out.
David Pogue, a long-time Apple fanboy, compares, in a test controlled by Apple:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/david-pogues-sneak-preview-apple-homepod-190227102.html

In a devastatingly effective demo, Apple lines up four of these things: The Google Home Max ($400), Sonos One ($200), Amazon Echo ($100), and the HomePod. They’re volume-matched and rigged to an A/B/C/D switch, so a single song can hop from one to the other. (Apple even installed a halo backlight behind each speaker that illuminated to show you which one was playing.)

The HomePod sounded the best. Its bass, in particular, was amazing: full and deep, but also distinct and never muddy — you could hear the actual pitch of the bass notes, not just the thud. That, unsurprisingly, is where other small speakers have trouble.

The Amazon Echo is a much smaller, slimmer device, one-third the price, so it’s forgiven for sounding thin compared with the HomePod. The Sonos One came awfully close to the HomePod’s rich sound; you’d really have to hear the A/B test to declare a difference.. The real shock was the Google Home Max, a massive, 12-pound machine that’s supposed to be all about the sound; it sounded like cardboard compared with the HomePod and Sonos.


Now, this was a single Sonos One vs the HomePod. A stereo pair of Sonos Ones, in my experience, sound significantly superior to a single One. Real, very effective stereo image, for starters. Better bass, due to twice the speaker surface area. At exactly the same price as a single HomePod (with fake, though reportedly pretty good, simulated stereo). I’ve no doubt, then, that a pair of Ones will sound significantly better than a HomePod. We won’t even talk about the Sonos Sub, and Apple’s lack of one, lol.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21

If Sonos is not interested in full-integration with Apple ecosystem including HomeKit, I will have to leave Sonos and find other products that will.


I am sure you are aware of Apple's history and then that are usually hesitant in working with others companies, in favor of a closed system. Sonos is more the opposite in that their history shows that will work with any company, as a music source, that they reasonable can. Given that, if Sonos doesn't work with the Apple ecosystem, it is more likely because Apple doesn't want it to, not the other way around.


It is a lot easier to find good speaker solutions than to find a good home automation control system, and it just does not make sense to invest in a speaker solution that has half-baked integration support for Apple ecosystem.


It's not hard at all to find a good home automation control system. Not sure why you would say that. I would agree though, since you are sold on the Apple ecosystem, it doesn't make sense for you to invest in Sonos.


I imagine many other Apple users who have just started getting into Sonos (or have plans to invest in Sonos) feel the same way.


Yes, they probably will. I don't know that Sonos can do anything about that. At the same time though, there may be many Apple users who have never paid attention to Sonos at all, but will start looking into multiroom audio and home automation because Apple convinced them it was something the needed. Apple has a history of creating/growing markets whenever they decide to enter it, which can also create a lot of business for their competitors. I don't know if that's true in this case, but it absolutely could be.
Userlevel 1

I am sure you are aware of Apple's history and then that are usually hesitant in working with others companies, in favor of a closed system. Sonos is more the opposite in that their history shows that will work with any company, as a music source, that they reasonable can. Given that, if Sonos doesn't work with the Apple ecosystem, it is more likely because Apple doesn't want it to, not the other way around.


This concern mainly arises from the WWDC announcement regarding companies that will support AirPlay 2. (https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/5/15727002/apple-homekit-airplay-2-speakers-update-announced-wwdc-2017). There were about 10-15 companies, including many of the major speaker manufacturers.

Sonos could perhaps sign up to produce AirPlay 2 compatible speakers in the near future. But that does not seem likely as Sonos still has not implemented AirPlay even though they have had plenty of chances to do so.

This actually feels similar to what Toyota is doing with CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota refuses to implement CarPlay/Android Auto because it does not want to cede its control over auto infotainment system. Perhaps Sonos has a different reason for not implementing AirPlay/2 since it already allows Spotify app to directly control Sonos speakers. (AirPlay licensing fees?)

I have no problem if Sonos keeps the current system as long as it adds AirPlay 2 (and HomeKit) to the system as additional feature. But if Sonos refuses to add those features, then I do not see any reasons to invest in Sonos ecosystem any further as it would limit the full potential of the system. (due to not having full-integration)
Userlevel 2
Badge +1
Even though Alexa integration is not available, I invest on Sonos 5.1, and looking forward to it's release. And I agree this is an opportunity for Sonos...... time is crucial ........
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Flysandy, I complete get the love for Apple and the desire for a completely integrated system...with Apple heavily involved. I'm just somewhat perplexed with people's desires to sell their sonos gear in favor of Apple...because of voice control. The echo dot is $50, while the homepod is $350. If your using the Sonos speakers, then the difference in speaker quality is irrelevant. $300 is a big difference to justify just because you like Apple, particularly when the Amazon product is proven, while the homepod is not. Not that you can't trust Apple to do this well enough.

Is airplay the difference? I understand what airplay is, but perhaps I can't really understand the benefit till using it. I can accept that as I've experienced that with other product/features. At the same time though, the same could be said for those who are convinced that homepod is going to be so much better than Echo (specifically a Dot). If you are so sure you're going to get a homepod, why not experiment and get a Dot as well?
melvimbe,

I think the airplay difference is that you can take any audio from the environment and send it out. It's a system level redirect, rather than an app level redirect.

Which is why I think there's potential legal issues that many streaming companies may need to look at vis a vis their potential broadcast/streaming rights. Which I think is a shame, too. I've been involved in a lot of legal discussions about music rights, and never enjoyed them.

But who knows, I could be wrong, too 🙂
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
Airplay 1 was a severely flawed playback system and I completely understand why Sonos wouldn't embrase it. Airplay 2 sounds like it has a lot of the pull from source features as Google Casting has (and Sonos long before they were even conceived). Now that finally Apple is getting their act together with their version of Google Casting type system maybe Sonos will look to a device to integrate both (since you will then cover most of the market - where just going Google Cast before didn't keep their support of market even).
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
vdpoorten, I wouldn't call that an advantage, since all those things can be done without using any Apple products whatsoever. I currently do these things with sonos and a lutron hub. I haven't done much with it, but smartthings as well. I can see where it would be appealing to go all Apple, but that's going to have disadvantages as well.
The most important advantages, besides multiroom, is homekit integration. With this it would be possible to start, stop, play, pause, select playlist etc. bases on events/scenes...


I would note that most of the things you want to do are already possible using other automation systems. My Homeseer system can accept commands from my Echo or use other triggers to control actions on my Sonos system. There is no need to wait for Homekit integration to do these things.

Homekit is off to a very slow start in the Home Automation arena and at this point has made no significant impact on that business. I would be surprised if Sonos made any investment in Homekit integration before there is a serious increase in the user base for that product.
Badge
Liked and agree with some of comments posted. I am also reasonably invested in Sonos, Apple Music, Apple eco-system, Homekit, Philips Hue environment and hope/want therefore that Sonos will evolve taking into account opportunities opening in that rich and promising environment. Sonos-Homekit integration and coexistence with Apple's coming Homepod being the obvious ones right now.

Apple Homekit has the advantage of being available on and build in every iphone/ipad device out there with a splendid user interface for home automation and has therefore great potential. Hope/expect Sonos to realise that!
Yawn
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
This whole homepod/Alexa/voice control thing is a little ridiculous to me. I honestly don't need to control my home/lights/music/thermostat/etc. with my voice. It's cool but it's not a deal breaker for me. As long as my Sonos app on my phone continues to work, I'm good. Not to mention Siri isn't all that reliable. I very rarely use it.
This whole homepod/Alexa/voice control thing is a little ridiculous to me. I honestly don't need to control my home/lights/music/thermostat/etc. with my voice. It's cool but it's not a deal breaker for me. As long as my Sonos app on my phone continues to work, I'm good. Not to mention Siri isn't all that reliable. I very rarely use it.

I used to be skeptical about the real value of voice control as well. Then I installed a couple of Echo's and found my family took to them like a fish to water. All the complaints about trouble working the music system went away and now when things do go wrong I get an amused story about the silly thing Alexa just did rather than complaints about how fiddly and unintuitive the music control app is. Phone based control will not be returning to our house.

Siri is not a good example of true voice control since you still have to dig out a phone to use it and as you point out, it is not very reliable. Apple has a lot of work to do to get Siri ready for Homepod, assuming they truly expect to compete with Alexa and can shed their phone centric mindset.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I would agree that voice integration is less for the type of person who posts here and more for the people who live with the people who post here. In my situation, it's me and my 2 kids. They could control sonos through the apps, but they really don't want to mess with Dad's stuff. The Echo's, on the other hand, are much more comfortable for them. They get to search for songs I've never even heard of. The only downside is that it's playing on the tiny dot instead of the sonos setup.

And then there are also guests. I don't want to have every guest download the app and learn how to use it. I'd rather they just see how easy it is to control with a couple examples, then be on their way.
If you are so sure you're going to get a homepod, why not experiment and get a Dot as well?

I've been considering this. I've had a strong desire to limit the number of platforms and devices throughout the house. If my voice assistant could also be the music source for whole home audio it's a more elegant solution. I have a few routines with HomeKit I would like to incorporate with Sonos. The good news is that more and more smart home devices are supporting both platforms but I don't want to have to talk to both Siri and Alexa to change a routine. That being said the Dot is inconspicuous enough to use with some of my key components (Hue lights) and its cheap enough to be an interim solution so some things. But I'm hoping that in the near future I can turn on my Apple TV and start watching a movie (adjusting room light settings etc) with a single voice command.
Hey Sonos, your kit is high quality and expensive. Just make it work in the best way with the best there is out there for home integration so yes that includes whatever Apple is doing to keep stuff secure in the web of things, plus the rest who are similarly keen to protect our networks from tech spoilers (thieves).
Looks like the HomePod has been delayed.

https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/17/apple-pushes-homepod-release-to-early-2018/