iACast 156 – Go Big Or Go HomePod Mini

Show Description

On this episode, Michael, Taylor, and Jason discuss Apple’s discontinuation of the original HomePod, and iMac Pro.


Apple discontinues the original HomePod and iMac Pro. For more info, see the links in the show description.

Evidence that supports the eminent a-rival of Apple’s AirTags was Found in the Find My app in the iOS 14.5 beta.

Hims has launched the BrailleSense 6.

Google released the Android 12 technical preview.


iAccessibility app development services


Jason: TalkBack version 9.1.

Taylor: GeneratePress

Michael: The Expeditionary Force Book Series

Providing Feedback

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Show Transcription

MICHAEL: Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of the IA cast. All right, with me today, I have the usual group. We have Taylor Arndt,

TAYLOR: Hello, everyone,

MICHAEL: and Jason Earls.

JASON: Hello, everybody.

MICHAEL: All right, we have a great episode for you today. And you know, we’ve been gone for a few weeks. We had a kind of a crazy storm And then we wanted to get back on a regular schedule. So, we’re back with a new episode to talk about all the interesting news that’s happened recently and some rumors and news and a bunch of different things that have happened. So, let’s jump right into it. Our main topic for today is the first news item, and that’s the HomePod being discontinued. And I have very mixed opinions on this.

JASON: I do too. I kind of understand why Apple discontinued the HomePod. Also, they discontinued the HomePod! It’s okay, HomePod buddy, I still love you! As I pat my HomePod.

MICHAEL: Didn’t we have a hashtag for a while, pet the HomePod?

JASON: I think we did.

TAYLOR: Hilarious.

JASON: I was just trying not to pat the screen because I didn’t want music to happen, but that would have actually been really funny.

MICHAEL: I think I have a picture of headphones sitting on a HomePod.

JASON: Oh, yeah! The Andrea Cans!

MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah.

JASON: But yeah, on one hand, I understand why they did it because it was at launch a what, $350 Smart speaker that couldn’t do terribly much more than play music. I mean yes, it sounded good, But you know, it’s not what people were looking for in their smart speakers. Especially considering the likes of the Echo devices, the Google Home Hubs or Homes at the time. And you know, the HomePod’s been around for like 4 years. So, in one respect, I kind of understand it. And you know, the HomePod Mini does have some features that the big HomePod doesn’t have regarding the U1 chip and everything. But at the same time, the HomePod does sound so good! And as good as the Mini is and as great sales figures as the Mini is because of its price point and everything, you can’t argue that it just does not sound as good as the big HomePod.

TAYLOR: Right. But I think if we’re thinking about it, the majority of consumers, they may not be in depth with audio and they may not understand that the HomePod sounds the way it is and that they want to pay for that. Because a lot of them just want to listen to music, and they want it to be portable. And so, that’s where I think it’s coming down to. Like, I understand why they they discontinued it, but yeah, it’s kind of sad. I mean personally, I don’t have a big HomePod, but that’s because in a small apartment, I just don’t have a lot of room.

JASON: Right. And, you know, they did say that they are still going to push out software updates for the big HomePods and support the Apple Care which is good because I just got Apple Care last year.

TAYLOR: Oh, that would stink otherwise.

JASON: Right? But like, I really want them to come out with a bigger HomePod for 199. That’s what I’m hoping for, even though they publicly said to I think it was like iMore or whatever that they were in fact focusing their efforts on HomePod Mini. Because let’s think about it like this, the big HomePod — you know, Apple slash the price to 299, right? So, for $200. You could get two HomePod mini for less money than one bigger HomePod. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to have the bigger, basier sound of the HomePod, but at least you would get stereo audio and stuff.

MICHAEL: Well, let’s leave this part for the end because we’re already kind of diving in.

JASON: I know right? I like, I got thoughts I’m sorry.

MICHAEL: But the other bit of news is the iMac Pro completely was discontinued and they’re only selling them while supplies last

JASON:That I’m not sad about.

MICHAEL: In a way, I am. I think it was a great product, but I think we’re about to see something new come from Apple. And as usual, we will be doing a live stream of that event. At least that’s the plan. We’ll be doing a live stream of the Apple event when it happens later this month. Because we do know for certain, right, that there is an apple event?

JASON: I don’t think we do know for certain. I just think speculations hide that there may be one, at least last I checked. But March 23 is the rumored date for the Apple event. I also haven’t really looked at the news today. So things may have changed. But last I knew it was a hypothetical thing at this point. I mean, a highly likely thing at this point.

MICHAEL: And I think it’s because they’re discontinuing these devices and the fact that we have so much information in the code about our next topic, and that’s potential AirTags coming soon. Because there’s mention of them in the find my app.

TAYLOR: Yes, there is.

MICHAEL: On the beta

TAYLOR: Which is awesome because I’ve saw YouTube videos. Obviously, I don’t have the beta myself, but I’ve seen YouTube videos that have mentioned it. Obviously, when you’re on to prepare for the podcast just kind of looking at all the news. And but yeah, definitely pretty cool. And hopefully, hopefully they work. I mean, Tile’s nice, but it’d be nice to have something built in and integrated for finding stuff.

JASON: Right, and I guess Apple’s opening up the FindMy protocol so that companies like Tile could take advantage of it as well. And it’s nice to see that they are opening up more of their frameworks and things.

MICHAEL: Well, and I think that’s because there’s been so much blame for antitrust and things between them and Google and things like that, that they’re trying to make sure that they stay open —

JASON: ahead of that, Yeah.

MICHAEL: Because Google’s had a lot of problems with that because they’re in everything. The last bit of news that we have is, and I won’t make any jokes, Jason, I won’t do it, I won’t do it. Those will be left for off the podcast, the BrailleSense 6. And I only make this joke because if you want to learn more, head to hims-inc.com/bs.6 . And I’m not kidding. Take all the jokes from that you can.

JASON: Exactly.

MICHAEL: Basically, we have the BrailleSense 6, and it was announced this week at CSUN. From what I’ve been able to tell, it was one of the biggest announcements because there weren’t a lot of announcements this week. And the BrailleSense 6 dropped the Polaris naming. And it’s Android 10, 120 Gigs of hard drive space, 80211AC wireless, a battery that while under load will drain 21% in an hour and a half if doing the max amount of work. That’s the only battery statistic we can get. It has SD card slot, it has two USBA ports, a two USBC ports, a headphone jack, supports microphone, The, what is that called, Jason?

JASON: I think it’s TRRS, actually, I believe is the technical standard which is basically what this microphone that I’m using is, which is, think the older headphone jacks on the iPhones or the the headphone jack on the Mac. So it’s that single microphone combo jack.

MICHAEL: And it has all that, it has new software installed. And the person doing the presentation was using Zoom on the BrailleSense. So that’s pretty promising. The only concerns I have are if it’s going to get Android 11 and up, and how well the software is going to work because the Polaris had a lot of issues with deleting documents and things like that.

JASON: Yeah, the BrailleSense Polaris is a very interesting device. I think it also actually Michael, in addition to the headphone jack, I think they said it also has a stereo line in Port as well. So you could connect music things to it, you know, binaural microphones really would work I would imagine to it.


JASON: Did you mention that it has 6 Gigs of RAM?

MICHAEL: No, I did not.

TAYLOR: Nope, you didn’t

JASON: So yeah, it’s got six Gigs of RAM, an 8 core CPU. I don’t remember if they announced the clock speeds of it, but —

MICHAEL: It didn’t.

JASON: So, it really does seem like a very interesting device and —

MICHAEL: And it’s gonna cost 5799, come out in June.

TAYLOR: Yeah. Wow. That’s a lot of money.

JASON: So we do know, the battery will be user replaceable though because they talked about that at the CSUN announcement I think

MICHAEL: they do offer financing and trade ins for your older devices, so those are options to get you a lot closer in price to those devices. So

JASON: Yeah, it’s a very interesting device. I do worry what the battery life is really going to be like,

TAYLOR: Right, and also if it can — like some note takers have a problem where they fall behind mainstream. And so that’s the other concern too, is that like, you buy the $6,000 device almost. Well, it’s already running two versions behind of Android almost at this point. 12 is beta. So that’s the other thing too. These notetakers I mean, they’re great for what they are, but you know, it’s a specialized thing, and they’re not always up to date.

JASON: Like I said to you guys, I think off the show, if I were to get a note taker, it would probably be the BrailleSense. You know, the BrailleSense 6. It’s so weird that they don’t have a name for it now.

TAYLOR: I know.

MICHAEL: Alright, you know, and we could have a whole episode on notetakers, but I think we would want to have somebody on that can talk more about Braille and mainstream versus notetaker because I think that would be a very cool discussion. So


JASON: Yeah, I do too. Because I mean, I’ve used the BrailleSense in the past, but the BrailleSense I used was, I think, even before the U2. So, it was definitely not any of the Android based BrailleSense devices. So

MICHAEL: Another thing that’s happened, the last news topic I really could think about, is Android 12 is in technical preview. We really haven’t talked about that. And I hear it brings a whole lot of user interface changes, but not a lot of — you’re not going to be able to notice it very much with Talkback.

JASON: Yeah, that’s true. I have been playing a little bit with the beta. After a couple false starts, I eventually got it on my Pixel. I accidentally installed the version of Android, that AOSP version, so it didn’t actually have a screen reader which is why I wasn’t getting speech.

TAYLOR: Oh, no. How did you fix that?

JASON: I pre flashed it —

MICHAEL: Very carefully.

JASON: I was —

TAYLOR: Yeah, very carefully.

JASON: Yeah, very carefully. So yeah, I reflashed it, because you can actually go to the Google developer site, and you can actually use their online flash tool, and it will basically do all the work for you

MICHAEL: Online? That’s cool!

JASON: It downloads the image to the device, you have to enable some things like OAM Unlock, and whatnot, it’ll download the image to the device, and it will tell you when it’s safe to unplug your phone at which point it should be booting into the beta of Android.

MICHAEL: That’s fancy.

JASON: I know.

MICHAEL: And talk about the security implications there. I mean, it’s Google, and they have all the security keys and all that. But could you imagine if somebody were to spoof that, and be able to put a knot legit version of Android from a website?

JASON: Yeah, I know. I did actually think about that. And then I stopped thinking about it.

TAYLOR: That might have been a good idea.

JASON: But like I said, I do have Android 12 installed. I don’t notice too much of a difference. Although honestly, my Pixels not my primary driver, my primary driver’s my iPhone. So what I can say though, is that 12 does seem to be relatively stable. And along with the introduction of Talkback 9.1 which is not specific to Android 12, I do think that the Android experience is going to improve a bit which is nice and awesome to see.

MICHAEL: Yeah. So, it’s really cool that, you know, we have the ability to flash these devices remotely. I think it’s really neat. But we’ll have more information about what’s in the beta for Android 12 in a future episode, but I think it’s really cool that we have the ability to do that, and to try these things before they come out, you know, iOS, Android, Windows through the Windows Insider program, and things like that.

JASON: I think the one thing that was kind of annoying to me though is — and maybe it’s just I did it in a way that made this happen. But it ended up forcing me to reset my phone to flash the version of Android 12 on to it. And of course, when I had the version without talkback, I didn’t mind resetting my phone. And I think if you downgrade back to Android 11, I believe it will make you reset as well. They do tell you that. So

MICHAEL: you know, I love how my watch made a noise even though I have — typically if I mute my phone, my watch will mute with it, but not this time.

JASON: Oh, interesting.

MICHAEL: Yeah, usually it mirrors but not this time, that’s interesting. All right, so for our ad part of the show today, I want to talk to you guys about app development services that’s offered by iAccessibility. iAccessibility offers app development services for iOS and Android at $50 an hour where we will build your app from the ground up based on your website or however, whatever app you’re trying to build. And the app will be accessible and usable by all users. Unless it’s a game that you really need specific use cases. We’ll still try to make it as accessible as possible, though. So,, we’ve built apps like VO Starter, we’ve built apps like Pocket Braille, Blind Bargains, ACB Link, And that’s just a few of the different apps on a lot of platforms that have been created. So $50 an hour minimum of $1,000 and you can have your app in the iOS and Google Play app stores. So you can go to iaccessibility.net to learn more, and we will be promoting that more on the website. So, people look out and we’ll have more information. So thanks for listening to the iACast. And now on to our main topic for today. And we’ve already talked a little bit about that, and it’s Apple discontinuing products like the HomePod. And you guys, I — this is — I feel like this is the most products that Apple’s discontinued at one time. And you know, Microsoft has done it. I mean, they discontinued a whole store line. Google, Google is the project killer, they are known for that. Do you guys think Apple’s kind of jumping on board that train,

JASON: I think in a way they are. I really think what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to streamline their product line, and you know, not have so many variations of things around. Especially in the case of the iMac Pro. I keep wanting to call it the MacBook Pro. That is a different product. But the iMac Pro because they really want us all to move over to Apple silicon, which, you know, I’m personally fine with. So I really think that’s part of it. And, you know, as far as the HomePod, I like to think that they have something new planned to replace this beautiful, soft, lovely mesh, big HomePod that I’m totally like rubbing a finger against right now because it just, it’s fun!

MICHAEL: Hashtag pet the HomePod.

JASON: Exactly. But you know, I really hope that they do have something to replace the bigger HomePod with at some point soon. Because, yeah.

TAYLOR: Yeah. So the thing with that is that, I think, like I said, a lot of these companies are doing that right now. They’re just trying to streamline. And you know, Google has been doing it for years. Microsoft kills things. But Apple, like I said, this is really a first. They don’t really do this all that often. And so, either one of two things, they either have a lot more products coming and they need to get rid of stuff, or they’re just trying to streamline because a COVID and everything, obviously, but we’ve been in COVID for over a year now. So who knows. You know, they’re just trying to get things streamline. Or if they are trying to add new products, but they need to get rid of some first.

MICHAEL: And it might be — it might just be that they don’t plan to update. Oh, well, actually, you know what? I think the Home Pod runs on the processor that the iPhone seven runs on. Isn’t it, Jason?

JASON: The big HomePod? Yeah, it’s the A8.

MICHAEL: Oh, wow. And I think that’s the next on the chopping block this year, guys.

TAYLOR: iPhone seven, you think next?

JASON: I think well, the seven has the A9, right?

MICHAEL: I don’t remember —

JASON: No, wait a minute. No, I think the A8 is from the iPhone 6. Actually.

MICHAEL: But I remember the 6S is the last version — iOS runs on the 6S. And so I bet the iPhone seven will be the final version that 15 will run on.


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