Soon available in France, Apple’s smart speaker has for primary defect the very closed ecosystem of the brand. A developer has created the BabelPod, the ultimate accessory to make the HomePod even more interesting.
The tests are unanimous: the HomePod is an excellent speaker. With quality sound and powerful bass, Apple’s speaker stands out from Google Home and Amazon Echo, even competing with products like Sonos. The HomePod nevertheless has a significant flaw: its dependence on the Apple ecosystem. Without Apple Music or AirPlay, it is impossible to enjoy the powerful speakers of the device…
Thanks to BabelPod, developer Andrew Faden has found a way to add Bluetooth support and a mini-jack input to the HomePod.
Raspberry Pi at the helm
On his website, Andrew Faden explains how to make the speaker more open. Overall, it is more of a sham than a real feat. By installing software capable of streaming everything he listens to in AirPlay from a Raspberry Pi, this developer managed to make the minicomputer communicate with the Apple speaker. By adding a USB/mini-jack adapter to the Raspberry Pi, it becomes then possible to connect any audio source to this device and to broadcast the sound in AirPlay on the HomePod. The name “BabelPod” comes from the fact that the device serves as a translator between different media that Apple wanted incompatible.
How BabelPod Works?
Through a web interface, the BabelPod user has the possibility to choose the music source (mini-jack input, Bluetooth…) and to choose the output, if he is equipped with several HomePod or AirPlay-compatible speakers. Connected to an Android smartphone or PC, the BabelPod appears like any Bluetooth speaker and takes care of transmitting the signal to the HomePod.
Andrew Faden – You can choose the entrance and exit of the BabelPod
Although ingenious, Andrew Faden’s solution is not perfect. The developer himself explains that the conversion to AirPlay creates a 2-second delay. For example, making it impossible to use the HomePod to watch a movie.
Google Assistant and Alexa on the HomePod
On his site, Andrew Faden explains that he does not intend to stop there with the BabelPod. The man is thinking about installing Google Assistant and Alexa on the small device. That would allow the two assistants to coexist with Siri on Apple’s speaker. The only limitation comes from the listening of the voice which requires that a microphone is connected to the Raspberry Pi. So, Apple not giving access to that of its speaker.
If you want to enjoy a mini-jack and a Bluetooth input on your HomePod. Then you have to wait once the product is marketed in France. Also, the developer details the creation of a BabelPod on his site. Until then, we can hope that Apple listens to its users by natively adding Bluetooth support, as Google had done before him. Still, for the mini-jack plug, no update will fill this gap. So the BabelPod is your only hope of connecting your old iPod to the smart speaker.