HomePod was built to sound great. It boasts a double-whammy of Apple-engineered audio technology and advanced software, allowing it to deliver impressive, high-fidelity sound that fills a space pretty well no matter where you put it. What it wasn't built for, however, was use with Bluetooth or a line-in — it's limited to Apple Music and AirPlay only. Not the biggest issue if you only use Apple devices, but what if you want to play audio from another source, like a turntable? If you're software architect Andrew Faden, you build your own solution.
Faden's workaround, which he calls "BabelPod," acts as a sort of translator between outside audio devices and your HomePod speaker. Using a $30 Raspberry Pi Zero W kit, a $9 USB audio adapter, and software Faden wrote himself, the little hardware hack takes audio input from line-in or Bluetooth and outputs it wirelessly to the HomePod via Airplay. Once built, BabelPod's web interface allows users to select both the source of the audio they want to play (either line-in or Bluetooth) as well as the AirPlay-enabled device they'd like to broadcast it to (HomePod, in this case).
Though this is a cool and — if you've got some tech skills — relatively simple workaround, it isn't 100% perfect. For one thing, Faden says that there is a two-second delay between when the audio input is received and when it is played on the HomePod, meaning BabelPod won't work well for gaming or playing the audio from a music video or film. Faden also notes that the quality of the audio is affected by the quality of the input, so if you plan on using a cheap line-in USB adapter, it won't sound as stellar as it would otherwise. The same goes for Bluetooth, which limits audio quality because its compressed. However, Faden does mention that it may be possible to improve the quality of Bluetooth audio by changing the standard SBC compression to use a higher bitrate or switching to a better compression algorithm like AAC or AptX (though he hasn't attempted either of those just yet).
All in all, if you're looking for a bit of a project and have a device that you'd like to use with your HomePod but that isn't compatible yet, you can check out Faden's full post for more info and complete step-by-step instructions. If you do try this hack for yourself, be sure to let me know how it goes. Happy experimenting!
Do you think HomePod should add support for line-in and Bluetooth, or do you think it's just fine the way it is? Share your thoughts in the comments!
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
This is how to check if a used iPhone or iPad was stolen from Apple
With several Apple stores looted and their display devices stolen, make sure you know how to spot if a device was stolen from Apple.
No, this mockup isn’t the iPhone 13
There's a 3D-printed mockup doing the rounds and people claim it's the iPhone 13. But there are a few problems with that. Starting with the fact it isn't.
This is how Apple will keep people safe when reopening Apple Park
Apple has already started bringing people back to Apple Park, but things aren't how they were before COVID-19.
Automate your home with the best HomeKit smart plugs around
If you're new to home automation, a smart plug can be a good first step in building out your connected home. If you've gone all-in on HomeKit-enabled accessories, this list can help you track down the perfect HomeKit-enabled smart plug for your home.