The Morning After: The verdict on Apple’s second-generation HomePod


Apple’s first HomePod in 2018 was late to the smart speaker game. Sure, it sounded good, but it lacked a lot of the basic functionality of its rivals. Yet again, with its second-generation $299 HomePod, the company delivers stellar sound quality, but this time, expanded smart home tools show Apple has learned from that first attempt.

The new HomePod can easily pair with HomeKit and Matter accessories and has temperature and humidity sensors. You can use that data to create automated triggers for other smart home devices. Even without a compatible smart thermostat, you can successfully trigger a smart plug, once the HomePod detects a certain temperature.

The most notable new feature on the HomePod isn’t even ready yet. Sound Recognition can listen for smoke or carbon monoxide alarms and notify your other Apple devices. Unfortunately, it won’t arrive in an update until later this spring. Check out our full HomePod review right here.

– Mat Smith

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The biggest stories you might have missed

That was quick.

A few days ago, speech AI startup ElevenLabs launched a beta version of its platform, which can create entirely new synthetic voices for text-to-speech audio or to clone somebody’s voice. Well, it only took the internet a few days to make a mess. The company is seeing an “increasing number of voice cloning misuse cases.” Motherboard found 4chan posts with clips featuring generated voices that sound like celebrities reading or saying something questionable. One clip, for instance, reportedly featured a voice that sounded like Emma Watson reading a part of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Users also posted voice clips that feature homophobic, transphobic, violent and racist sentiments. It’s not entirely clear if all the clips used ElevenLab’s technology, but a post with a wide collection of the voice files on 4chan included a link to the startup’s platform. The company is now gathering feedback on how to prevent users from abusing its technology. It may even drop its Voice Lab tool altogether and have users submit voice cloning requests that it can verify manually.

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Respawn says it will use the extra six weeks to polish the game.

EA

Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment announced the delay of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor to April 28th. The game was previously slated to arrive on March 17th. “In order for the team to hit the Respawn quality bar, provide the team the time they need and achieve the level of polish our fans deserve, we have added six crucial weeks to our release schedule – Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will now launch globally on April 28th,” Respawn posted on Twitter. The studio said it would use the extra time to fix bugs and polish the game to improve performance, stability and the player experience.

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Rolls right off the tongue.

Paramount Global is combining two of its services. It will fold Showtime into the Premium tier of Paramount+ later this year. The combined offering will be known as Paramount+ With Showtime. Showtime’s linear TV network will be rebranded with the same name in the US. As part of the move, some Paramount+ original programs will air on the cable network – so maybe more people will finally recognize the brilliance of The Good Fight – which is getting a spin-off pilot, too. (The Good Fight itself was already a spin-off.) While the move may come as a disappointment to those who are only interested in Showtime’s content and aren’t sold on Paramount+, the move makes sense from a business perspective. There’s a wave of consolidation across the media industry, including in streaming, where HBO Max and Discovery+ will combine in the coming months.

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A report from UK clean-energy think tank Ember projects the gap to widen.

Energy generated from solar and wind power reportedly overtook natural gas in the EU for the first time last year. The data comes from UK clean-energy think tank Ember and projects the gap to grow. Solar and wind energy rose to an all-time high of 22 percent of the EU’s 2022 electricity use. Meanwhile, Ember projects fossil-fuel generation to drop by 20 percent this year – with gas falling the fastest. The clean energy industry had some unwanted assistance. The shift stems from reduced reliance on gas and coal after Russia invaded Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin ordered the cutoff of natural gas exports to the EU as retaliation for Western sanctions.

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