The HomePod has great sound, but because it feature no physical inputs, users are limited to either Apple Music or AirPlay sources. It means that there’s no way to connect a home stereo or other source directly to the HomePod via traditional line-in or Bluetooth.
To work around this issue, software architect Andrew Faden hacked together a line-in and Bluetooth input for HomePod called BabelPod. Based around a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W and a few other essential parts, Faden created a clever workaround that affords both indirect Bluetooth and line-in connectivity for Apple’s recently-launched wireless speaker.
Faden also had to write the software to take a line-in or Bluetooth connection and translate it into an AirPlay stream that the HomePod can understand. Because it’s essentially translating from one audio “language” to another, the name BabelPod was deemed appropriate.
BabelPod’s web interface is used to select both the audio source and destination. Sources can be either Bluetooth or line-in, while destinations can be any compatible AirPlay-enabled device, including HomePod.
There are some obvious downsides to such a device though, with the most obvious one being that it requires roughly $40 worth of parts and the technical know-how to make it all work. But that may be a small price to pay for someone looking to expand the utility, and potential longevity, of the HomePod.
Another obvious downside is the reduced audio quality, along with an approximate 2-second delay that’s introduced when streaming from the BabelPod — a reality that makes things like streaming video game and movie audio a non-starter.
Faden notes that his ultimate goal is to make Apple aware that its customers want HomePod to support audio sources outside of the Apple ecosystem. Of course, adding an auxiliary connection to the HomePod is impossible for the current version and extremely unlikely for future revisions, but Apple could open up SiriKit intents to audio apps with future iOS updates.
What are your thoughts on BabelPod? If you want to build your own, be sure to check out Faden’s blog post, which outlines all of the details. It’s worth noting that he also plans to introduce significant improvements in future updates, including improved stability, and improved sound quality.