You are reading the article Homepod Diary: Stereo Pairing Took An Age, But It Was Worth The Wait updated in December 2023 on the website Moimoishop.com. We hope that the information we have shared is helpful to you. If you find the content interesting and meaningful, please share it with your friends and continue to follow and support us for the latest updates. Suggested January 2024 Homepod Diary: Stereo Pairing Took An Age, But It Was Worth The Wait
It was a frustratingly long wait for Apple to finally launch AirPlay 2, adding stereo pairing to HomePod – along with multi-room playback from an iOS device and more.
If you haven’t already updated, you’ll need to upgrade to iOS 11.4, and then update your speakers. I did that yesterday, finding it a largely painless process, through there were a couple of glitches which I’ll get to.
That done, I was finally able to find out how a pair of HomePods sound …
My first impressions of a single HomePod back in February were that it was a Sonos Play 5 killer. Indeed, one HomePod came closer than I expected to matching the performance of a pair of B&W MM-1s, which I considered a much more impressive achievement. I did subsequently replace the Play 5 in our bedroom with a second HomePod.
I didn’t consider for a moment that HomePod – singular or plural – was ever going to replace a primary HiFi system. However, three factors did lead me to go some way toward modifying that view.
First, while I drew a distinction between the ‘really good’ audio quality of the HomePod and the great sound of my B&O and Naim systems, I also drew another one. Between actively listening to a piece of music, when I want great sound quality, and casual background music, when ‘really good’ satisfies me. And I found myself reflecting on the fact that, actually, the majority of my listening these days falls into the latter category.
Second, the convenience factor where casual listening is concerned.
So the convenience comes more to the fore. And the ability to simply tell HomePod what to play – both directly and indirectly – is pretty addictive. Once you experience it, it’s hard to be without it. It actually feels like a bit of a chore with my other speakers to have to open an app and select my music that way.
Third, since moving home back in November, we spend almost all our time on the glazed balcony, aka the winter garden – because that’s where we get the view which sold us the apartment. I thus put the B&O BeoLab 6000 speakers out there. It’s a relatively small space, and my partner was of the view that they were too big for the location. Usually it’s me lobbying for new gadgets, but this time it was Steph who was suggesting that a pair of HomePods might be a better bet there, with the B&O speakers moved to the living room.
I felt that, in such a small space, a pair of HomePods might well be sufficient. But that wasn’t something I was able to put to the test until yesterday.
As soon as the iOS 11.4 update was available, I immediately relocated the bedroom HomePod to the winter garden. To configure it in a stereo pair, I had to assign it to the winter garden and then follow the simple process to pair them.
One oddity is that you have to assign the left and right channels manually. Given that most people will, I imagine, orientate the speakers so that the volume controls are the right way up, I would have thought a pair of HomePods ought to be able to figure out the channels for themselves. Play a sound through one speaker and then use the directional mics on the other one to figure out whether the sound is coming from the left or right.
It’s a minor quibble, given that it takes seconds to assign them manually, but it slightly offended my sense of technological efficiency that they required me to do it.
Then it was time for the test! And three things very quickly became apparent.
First, it was a huge relief to be back to stereo sound. I don’t mind mono sound in some rooms. In the bedroom, for example, where a speaker is at the foot of the bed, stereo would make little difference as the speakers wouldn’t be that widely spaced for the listening position. In a kitchen, too, where you’re typically moving around the room, you’d spend more time out of the stereo sweet-spot than in it.
But in a main room, stereo is a must. So getting stereo from the HomePods was the first time when I could seriously consider them as a permanent solution in the winter garden.
Second, the increased volume of a pair of HomePods was, as Rolls-Royce used to famously understate about the power of their engines, sufficient.
I think, in truth, they would be room-filling even in the living-room. In the winter garden, they pumped out more than enough volume. Indeed, my partner retreated to the living-room when I was carrying out the volume tests, despite not needing to go any higher than 80%. Maximum volume would have been bleeding-ears level.
Third, the bass performance of a pair of HomePods is very substantially better than a single one. Sure, the bass level wasn’t issuing any challenge to my BeoLab 6000s, but it was again more than good enough for casual listening. In fact, I’d say that, at everyday listening levels, the difference in bass level was detectable but not particularly important. It’s only when I’m actively listening to a thundering track at high volume that I want that chest-thumping feel from a pair of speakers. I’d say that two HomePods at maximum volume are only about 10% below chest-thumping level.
I mentioned that there were a couple of glitches with the update. For a short time after the update, the Home app was complaining that the relocated HomePod wasn’t responding. I force-quit the app and then all was fine.
Additionally, when testing AirPlay from iTunes, the paired HomePods didn’t initially show up. Quitting and restarting iTunes didn’t cure it, however that resolved itself within a couple of minutes.
As you can see above, iTunes shows individual AirPlay speakers in the main section, then stereo-paired rooms below. That feels a bit odd – once you have stereo-paired speakers, which by definition have to be in the same room, I can’t think of any circumstance where you might want to select them individually. And the iOS Music app more sensibly only offers access to them as a pair.
But that’s again a very minor complaint – and let’s face it, one additional messy aspect to iTunes isn’t going to make much difference.
One other slightly strange thing: all Siri responses come from one speaker (the left one in my case). I guess that makes sense, as it might sound weird coming from both, but it does jar slightly.
My verdict, then, is that a pair of HomePods makes a very decent speaker system consistent with the $700 investment. It’s not up there with high-end HiFi, but as someone who’s reasonably fussy about audio quality, it’s good enough that I’m going to relocate the B&O speakers to the living room and stick with these for the winter garden.
I’ll be buying a third one to replace what was the bedroom HomePod. As an aside, I think it’s worth noting that my partner – who is a lot less fussy than me about speakers, and has only recently been making significant use of Siri for HomeKit control – has been fully on board with purchasing three of them. At UK prices, that’s a total spend of £957 ($1270), which is testament to how well they sell themselves to someone who is perhaps halfway between a mass-market consumer and a techie.
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Much to the dissatisfaction of the folks who had worked hard on a version of Apple’s set-top box that could integrate with cable services, that Apple TV product never saw the light of day.
An Apple TV that one could plug a coaxial cable into sounds like the dream set-top box that we’ve all been waiting for for quite a number of years now. Such a product would pair the world of streamed Hollywood entertainment with the traditional cable subscription, creating an indispensable entertainment hub that also ran other apps, played games and so forth.
ROUNDUP: The best clock apps for your Apple TV
As a matter of fact, Apple did plan on merging the two worlds as a way of replacing set-top boxes distributed free of charge to subscribers by the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The device was able to handle the combination of live and on-demand video with ease.
However, the Cupertino technology giant ultimately chose to abandon the project due to business disagreements with the potential cable partners, who would rather eat their hat than license their programming to the powerful cord-cutting company that poses a major threat to the traditional cable business, operators and content owners.
This previously unknown piece of Apple history was revealed in a recent story about Eddy Cue by The Information’s Aaron Tilley, who interviewed half a dozen ex employees to offer an inside look at the world of Apple’s services boss and chief negotiator with Hollywood.
Here’s the relevant excerpt:
Around four years ago, Mr. Cue oversaw development of a version of Apple TV that could integrate with cable services, with the goal of replacing set-top boxes distributed by the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, said a former Apple employee.
The Apple TV box—with a coaxial cable port for plugging into cable networks and software to handle the combination of live and on-demand video—never launched due to disagreements with the potential cable partners. Apple engineers involved in the product were dispirited, said a former employee.
Apple recently announced that Charter Spectrum cable subscribers can replace their cable boxes with Apple TVs without the coaxial port. Customers in nearly 50 million US households will gain access to live channels and tens of thousands of on-demand programs via a new Spectrum TV app on their Apple TV 4K, , iPhone and iPad.
The channel apps is seamlessly integrated with Siri and Apple’s own TV App.
“In addition, as part of this collaboration, Charter will be offering iPhone and iPad to customers as they grow their mobile presence,” Apple wrote in a press release announcing tvOS 12 earlier this summer. Charter Communications is the second-largest cable operator in the US.
Coming exclusively to the Apple box this fall, Charter Spectrum will mark Apple TV’s very first provider to support Zero Sign-On, a new feature of the upcoming tvOS 12 software that lets your box securely approve all your favorite video apps. “Zero Sign-On begins with Charter later this year and will expand to other providers over time,” Apple acknowledges.
ROUNDUP: All the TV shows Apple’s working on
The Cue profile includes a bunch of other tidbits, like how the company passed up 2009’s opportunity to enter the video-streaming business by offering streaming versions of Showtime’s and Starz’s channels and content through iTunes.
While Apple’s video team embraced the idea of cutting deals with the channels as an initial step to get into video streaming, Cue and Jobs saw deals with just a few entertainment providers as “too piecemeal” and unworthy of Apple’s reputation for premium products.
“If Apple was going to get into streaming packages of content, it had to be all the major broadcast networks and some of the big cable channels and sports,” said an executive there at the time, according to The Information story.
Another tidbit from the story: Cue, who is 53 years old, apparently became so overworked that he fell asleep during important meetings on several different occasions. In at least two of these situations, the executive began snoring, one source said.
So, are you glad or sad that Apple TV lacks a coaxial input?
I explained in my first HomePod Diary piece that there was one smart home issue we needed to address: while I’m happy to use Siri to control everything from my Apple Watch or iPhone, my partner would often find that she wanted to switch lights on or off while her phone was in another room. We’d partially addressed this with Hue dimmer switches, but wanted more flexibility.
In my HomePod Diary, I’ve been focusing mostly on music, but I’m also happy to report that the smart speaker has also passed the Steph Test …
Steph has no interest in an Apple Watch, and her clothing doesn’t all have pockets – meaning her phone can easily be in one room while she’s in another.
Since almost all our lighting is Philips Hue, which is platform-agnostic, my first thought was that we could place an Amazon Echo Dot in the living-room – which I hoped could be heard from the glazed balcony as well as the alcove kitchen. These are cheap enough that it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to sprinkle two or three of these about the apartment if needed.
But one other thing missing from our smart home setup was timed automation. We don’t have a TV of any kind, so an Apple TV isn’t an option. An older iPad would have done the trick, but a colleague then pointed out that this could be a cheap way to get a HomePod.
However, Zac pointed out yesterday that HomePod could instead be the hub. Since we’d get almost two-thirds of the cost by selling her old iPad, and we’d be saving another £50/$50 by not having to buy an Echo Dot, the net cost would actually be rather low. We’d be buying a HomeKit hub and voice control system and getting a speaker thrown in for a small premium.
I’ve always found Siri a reliable and convenient way to do things, but the big question was whether Steph would feel the same.
The good news is that she does. She told me a couple of days ago that she liked HomePod as a way to control lights, and she’s found it as reliable as I have at hearing her voice from almost anywhere in the apartment.
The only issue she’s hit is remembering what the various lights are called. Right from when I named the lights at my old place, I hit on the idea of ‘lights’ for ceiling lights and ‘lamps’ for floor-standing or table lamps, so that was part of the trick.
But I’ve also created some fake ‘rooms’ to make life easier. For example, despite having a combined living-room and dining room, so far as HomeKit is concerned the indirect lighting is in the living-room while the ceiling lights are in the dining room. ‘Switch on the living-room lights’ or ‘switch on the dining-room lights’ makes an easy way to choose the lighting you want.
Similarly, HomeKit thinks that our bedroom wardrobes are separate rooms, so we can easily switch off the Hue Light Strips used in those if we want to do it manually rather than waiting for the motion-sensor to time-out.iRad smart(ish) heating
Smart(ish) because there’s only a web app rather than a native iPhone app, but we’ll get to that …
Heating was another issue we needed to address in the new apartment. We previously had gas central heating, controlled by Tado. This was great, but our new apartment has electric radiators, which Tado can’t control.
The electric radiators installed in the flat were also rather bulky and inefficient, so we wanted to replace them with smaller, slimmer, more efficient models. I naturally gravitated toward ones offering app control. Nobody seems to do anything HomeKit-compatible, as you can’t use anything designed for central heating, but I found the next best thing.
This is iRad, which uses wireless thermostats as controllers, with built-in receivers on each radiator. (You can also get separate receiver boxes to attach to non-smart radiators.) If you want one temperature and timetable for the entire home, then you can use a single controller. But for us, it made more sense to have one heating zone for the living-room, and separate ones for each of the office and the bedroom – so two extra thermostats.
The radiators themselves are great. Much slimmer than the originals, heat up faster and put out more heat. They should also save a noticeable amount of money in use.
We ordered them in white, and they have a featureless design which really blends in to the white walls. They are just white metal boxes aside from a light-up power switch and a small LED used to indicate heat output, and also used during pairing – of which more in a moment.
To control the heating, you wirelessly pair one or more radiators to a standalone battery-powered thermostat. Each thermostat controls one ‘zone.’ We have ours configured as:
Living-room (two radiators paired to one thermostat)
Bedroom (one radiator paired to one thermostat)
Office (one radiator paired to one thermostat)
That’s because we want different heating times in each zone. The bedroom heats briefly in the morning and evening, the office heats in the day and the living-room heats in the evening.
Set-up is horrible. First, you need to pair each radiator with its thermostat. To do this, you need to put the radiator into pairing mode. Instead of the usual pin-hole microswitch, you switch the radiator off, then on for exactly three seconds, then off, then on again.
Do it for 2.9 seconds or 3.1 seconds and nothing happens. It took about five attempts to get the first radiator into pairing mode. The second one wouldn’t play ball at all, and we had to go through a reset procedure – which again involves timed switching on and off – before trying again. Once done, it then took another three or four goes before it went into pairing mode.
The third one took about a dozen attempts. By the final one, I must have been getting the hang of the timing, as I managed that on take two.
Once you do finally get the radiator into pairing mode, indicated by the LED flashing, you press a button on the back of the thermostat. Thankfully, there’s no crucial timing there: you have a leisurely 30 seconds to do it before the radiator drops out of pairing mode.
Finally, when you have a thermostat and radiator(s) paired, you have to add them to the gateway – a small box much like a Philips Hue or Tado one that connects to power and then by Ethernet cable to your router. This process is even worse. The gateway flashes various light patterns, and you have to cycle through patterns in the web app to find a matching one. You do this multiple times before it accepts that you own the thermostat. (Adding subsequent thermostats doesn’t make you repeat this, thankfully.)
So, yeah, terrible set up. But this is a one-off process. I think the reason for it is that the designer was going for as featureless a look as possible, so didn’t want to add a pin-hole to the casing.
Fortunately, using it is vastly easier than configuring it.
First, you can manually adjust the temperature on the thermostat using up and down buttons. But mostly you’ll want timed control, of course, and this is done via an app.
The marketing materials and packaging both show an iPhone app, so I was a little annoyed to find that this no longer exists. Instead, there’s a web app.
This does feel clunky in comparison, and it’s not exactly pretty on an iPhone screen. But it actually works pretty well. Let’s take another look at that top photo:
The app shows the current temperature of each room (in Celsius, as we’re in the UK), and the target temperature, showing also when the next change is due. In this case, I’m taking the photo on a sunny afternoon when the sun is heating the flat to well above the target temperature, although I’m currently skeptical about the exact temperatures measured.
If you want to over-ride the current setting, you just tap the target temp and a slider appears that allows you to easily set a new target to within half a degree.
Setting those targets is done on an even clunkier-looking screen:
But it’s easier to use than it looks. Tap a segment, and you can quickly set a new start time and target temp. Set things up for Monday, and the hamburger menu icon offers you a Copy Day function that allows you to copy it to the rest of the week. It took just a couple of minutes to configure each room. (Thursday is different as that’s when Steph usually works from home, in the living-room, so we want heat throughout the day.)
The radiators have three modes, indicated by the small LED:
Off (zone at or above target temperature): green LED
Low (close to target temperature): yellow LED
High (heating up to target temperature): red LED
The same off/low/high settings are shown on the paired thermostat.
Really the only thing it lacks compared to the Tado system I had before is presence detection. The system has no way to know whether or not we’re home, so you do have to manually adjust when away.
We’ve noted the electricity readings on day one and will be comparing energy usage with the old units.Nanoleaf Rhythm
The final item on the smart home to-do list was my Nanoleaf light panels. I mostly wanted these in the office, to serve as a bit of background interest in product videos, but thought it would also be fun to have them in the living-room for parties. I hit on the idea of mounting them on a piece of white hardboard, and then hanging them on the wall like a picture-frame.
I’ll report back next time on how well this works, but so far so good. The white board on a white wall doesn’t stand out too much. It does mean I can’t use ducting for the cable, but by keeping this taut it doesn’t look too untidy.
I also fitted the Nanoleaf Rhythm module which the company launched back in September of last year. This is a small device that plugs into any spare slot in one of your Nanoleaf panels, and contains a microphone. This listens to ambient music, and you can then use a Rhythm scene to have the panel react to your music.
As with standard scenes, there are a number of these built into the app, and you can download more.
I love this. It’s the one feature I felt the light panel should have had from the beginning, and I think it adds a lot to the appeal of the product.
We also had a dance tutor here yesterday who was really impressed with it, and is even considering using it as part of his teaching. Watching the way the lights respond to the music could, he thinks, be really helpful in getting those new to dance to really get a feel for how sound can be turned into movement.Oh, and more lights
I should have predicted this …
I’d originally said that as we mostly use indirect lighting, we were happy to have the overhead lights remain dumb ones. Er, yeah. It got annoying.
So now all the lights are smart bar the bathroom and hall ones, which are 12V bulbs. Those will have to wait for a UK-fitting HomeKit-compatible switches.
And we’re not quite done. One of the reasons we wanted to lose the bulky original radiators was to create more room for additional bookshelves (did I mention that we have a lot of books, despite both offloading hundreds of them before the move?). Once those are in, then we’ll add some more Hue Light Strips along the top of them.
But then that really will be it. Honest.
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Did You Know?
The top reason Gen Z workers are unemployed is because they quit. This is often due to having unmet expectations such as higher pay, flexibility and benefits.
Offer your teenage employees a personalized career plan for their professional development. This will not only directly help each worker but also benefit the company’s performance and help you retain motivated employees.
To grow a workforce that fosters a positive culture and strong performance, businesses should hire the candidates who are most qualified, within the confines of local, state and federal laws.Legalities of hiring minors
Depending on the type of business you own, there are special legal considerations to be aware of when you’re deciding whether to hire minors.Work permits
Seek the necessary documents that allow you to hire minors. These may include work permits, age certificates or both. To find out your state’s requirements, you can use the DOL’s table of employment and age certification chart. Be aware that once you receive your new employee’s work permit, it will typically expire within a year, so you will need to repeat the process when appropriate.Minimum wage
According to the FLSA, companies may be permitted to pay what’s called the “opportunity wage,” of $4.25 per working hour, to minors or anyone under 20 years old for their first 90 days of work. After that point, employers are required to pay the workers the state-set minimum wage or more. This depends on the state or locality employers and workers reside in, since some have regulations calling for a higher minimum wage for minors and others don’t allow payment lower than the state minimum wage at any time.Age requirements for certain work
The FLSA doesn’t allow minors to work in any jobs that are considered hazardous. Workers under age 16, especially, are not authorized to work in any heavy-duty manufacturing jobs, mining, transportation, construction, machine operation or utility services to the public. This is a large part of the reason the aforementioned food safety sanitation provider was fined. Check your local and state laws for any other exceptions or constraints you’ll need to be mindful of.How to determine if hiring minors is worth it
The best way to determine if hiring minors is worth it is to consider the specifics of your business, the goals you are trying to achieve, the role the minor would be filling, and whether you have the time and resources. Will you be able to strike a balance between providing a work experience that benefits both you and the minor, or will you merely be occupying their time and offering little reward?
Hiring minors might be worth it if …
You need assistance with tedious, non-revenue-generating tasks, like file organization.
Your business is targeted at Gen Z or Gen Alpha, giving you the opportunity to get insights from someone in a similar age group.
You want to mentor teens in your community.
Hiring minors might not be worth it if …
You don’t have the time to supervise them as necessary.
Most roles deal with sensitive, confidential information or dangerous conditions.
You don’t have the HR staff or resources to keep up with legal regulations.
I’ve done two posts so far as part of our “Ask The Experts” series on Panda 4.0/Payday Loan 2.0 Update and then a followup a few weeks later. However, I thought now was the time for our SEJ writers to get a chance to tackle one of the hottest discussion points right now, the LinkedIn Publishing Platform.
Here’s what I asked a selection of our writers:
“The LinkedIn Publishing Platform has created buzz among content creators who are excited about the exposure it could provide. However, because best practices aren’t set, the future for it isn’t clear. What is your opinion on the future success, as well as the ramifications of the platform, including duplicate content flagging, abuse of the opportunity (using it for sales promotions instead of real content), etc?”
Thanks to our SEJ writers for their thoughtful responses:What do you think about the new LinkedIn Publishing platform?
I think publishing on LinkedIn is a great way to generate additional exposure and branding for your business…especially if you are in the B2B sector. The only thing I would look out for is posting duplicate content. A lot of bloggers are posting their identical blog posts on LinkedIn and eventually I think this will bit them in the butt.
Using the LinkedIn publishing platform more often is actually one of my goals over the next six months, and I feel like a lot of other people are in the same boat. It seems so great! And it’s so easy! And the potential seems so huge! And….we’re still pushing it to the side. I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but as I look through some of my connections it seems that many people aren’t making a consistent effort, and I do believe the platform’s uncertain future has something to do with this.
We don’t really know much about LinkedIn’s algorithm, and we aren’t sure whether or not these posts will start to gain more popularity in Google search. While it’s wonderful in terms of building up your profile, you want to make sure as a writer your articles are gaining maximum exposure. Because it takes so long to write a quality article, I have to publish it somewhere where I know exactly what I’m getting both now and in the future. If I was able to duplicate content somehow this might be a different story, but for now I have to assume that duplication is a bad idea, and if I want to get involved in this platform I need to spend my time writing something unique. As for sales promotions instead of real content, I haven’t seen it be much of a problem now and my guess is that LinkedIn won’t let it become poor quality in the future.
Finally with all of that said, I absolutely see the value in this publishing platform and I do think it has the potential to grow and become more successful. It’s still fairly new and LinkedIn has some room to improve, and I think they will. Again, I’m still not an avid user of the platform, but I plan to be because I think it has a solid future.From Razvan Gavrilas of cognitiveSEO:
The LinkedIn initiative looks great. But…as soon as it was launched it generated a lot of traction (maybe too much all at once) and a lot of people started writing all kind of content. I do not think LinkedIn is prepared yet to handle all the low quality content issues. Or maybe they do not care and the system will auto-curate itself. At the moment I am sure a lot of SEOs will try to abuse the system.
On the good side of things, the LinkedIn article platform would allow you to spread more content directly to your LinkedIn network , increasing your perceived authority in a specific niche or area.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” as the saying goes, so let’s see where the new LinkedIn article platform will be in the next two years.From Prashant Puri of AdLift:
LinkedIn’s publisher platform has proved to be a very powerful content marketing tool in an extremely short amount of time. Posts written by authors have the opportunity of reaching 50k+ people in a matter of hours. The platform needs to be part of any marketers social media plan.
With respect to SEO, the content wouldn’t have direct impact on your SEO but indirectly– most definitely. Just like Twitter can be used as a powerful indexation tool, Linkedin’s publisher platform can we used to get your site content over to Google lighting fast.
What’s important is how LinkedIn will deal with duplicate content and content created to spam the platform. In addition, if LinkedIn doesn’t act fast enough on these policies will Google leverage the same content penalties as it’ s done to other low quality content platforms? That’s yet to be seen.
Effectiveness: It ends up being a lot more capable than I anticipated
Price: 15$/month for Pro plan and $30/month for Business
Ease of Use: Fairly easy to use though I did have some complaints
Support: Email, live chat, community forum, FAQs
Why Trust Me for This Review
You can even see proof that I experimented with Animatron — I’ve included the email from my account confirmation, and all photos included in this review are screenshots from my experimentation.
Detailed Review of Animatron Studio
Animatron is actually two products, one of which is further split into two modes. The first product is Animatron’s wave.video, which is more of a traditional video editor. You can add clips, text, stickers, stock footage, and more to make a personal or marketing video. However, we won’t be reviewing wave in this article.
Instead, we’ll be focusing on Animatron Studio, which is a web software for creating animated videos in various styles for purposes ranging from education to marketing to hobby pursuit.
Dashboard & Interface
In Lite mode, the interface has four main sections: assets, canvas, timeline, and sidebar.
The assets panel is where you’ll find items to add to your videos, like backgrounds, text, props, and audio. The canvas is where you drag these items and arrange them. The timeline lets you manage each asset, and the sidebar lets you encapsulate those into scenes that can be easily rearranged.
You may also notice some buttons along the top, such as undo/redo, import, download, and share. These are just general toolbar icons, like any other program.
In Lite mode, assets are divided into a few categories: animated sets, videos, images, backgrounds, text, audio, and project files. Note: Photos, Videos, and audios are only available to paid subscriptions.
Animated Sets: Collections of related graphics such as background and characters that often have premade animations.
Videos: Clips of live action or rendered footage that does not have the animated style.
Images: Footage from all the same categories as the video clips, but still frame and unmoving. The images are either of real people or rendered & abstract. They do not have an animated style.
Backgrounds: These are large images or artscapes that can be used as a backdrop to set the stage of your video. Most are in the animated content style rather than a real life depiction.
Text: This is your basic tool for adding any kind of words to the video. There are tons of default fonts installed, but if you need a specific one, you can use the arrow point to a box button to import your own (should be the .ttf file type). There are options for changing the font weight, alignment, size, color, and stroke (text outline).
Audio: Audio files include background music and sound effects. These are categorized into themes like “business” or “relaxing”. You can also import your own music files using the Import button in the toolbar.
Simply drag and drop your files in, and they will be added to the project library tab.
Overall, the assets library seems fairly robust. There are lots of animated sets and free footage, tons of audio files, and plenty to browse. However, I did have several complaints.
First, for a while, I thought there was no search tool for the animated sets or background tabs. After contacting support and asking them about it, the issue turned out to be a bug (and when I logged back into the software the next day, it didn’t affect me anymore). However, it’s strange that a web-based tool would have issues on Chrome, which is usually the most well-supported browser.
Second, the built-in voiceover function is severely lacking. The microphone icon is in the toolbar and offers only a recording button- no box for prompts or even a recording countdown. Furthermore, once you’re done recording and add the clip to your scene, it isn’t stored anywhere else- so if you accidentally delete it, you’re going to need to record it again.
Lastly, I found that Animatron lacked a standard “props” library. For instance, in most animation programs you can search “television” or “carrot” and see several graphics in different styles to pick from.
However, props in Animatron appear to be limited to the style of their set. I tried searching “computer”, a common prop, but although there were many results none were in the whiteboard sketch style. All seemed to be various cliparts or flat designs.
Unlike many web programs, Animatron does not have a traditional template library. There are no pre-made scenes that can be simply dropped into the timeline. The closest thing you’ll find is the animated sets.
These sets are collections of objects that can be placed in a scene together. They are more flexible than templates, because you can pick what to include or exclude, but require more effort to put together.
Overall, it’s nice that you can mix and match, but it would be helpful to have a few pre-made templates.
The timeline is where everything comes together. You add your assets, music, text, and more, then rearrange it to suit your needs.
The plus and minus signs at the end of the timeline can be used to add or subtract time from the scene.
The scenes sidebar shows you all the scenes in your project, allows you to add transitions between them, or duplicate content. You can add a new scene by pressing the + button at the top.
To add a transition, just press the blue “no transition” button. You can choose between a few options.
Save & Export
When you’re satisfied with your video, there are a few ways to share it.
The first way is “share”, which will let you share the video as embedded content, a link, a gif, or a video.
When you press continue, you’ll be asked to link a Facebook or Twitter account. Oddly, there doesn’t appear to be an option for linking to YouTube, which is normally available on video creation platforms.
Your other option is “download”. Downloading will create a file in either the HTML5, PNG, SVG, SVG Animation, Video, or GIF formats. This means you can download stills of your video, not just the moving parts. This is useful if you want to create a presentation by making non-animated scenes.
When downloading as a video, you can choose between some presets or making your own dimensions and bitrate.
Once you’re in expert mode, you’ll notice there are actually two different tabs: design and animation. These two tabs have the exact same tools, but there’s an important distinction.
In design mode, any changes you make to an object will be static, which means it will affect every frame of the object. In animation mode, any changes you make will be keyframed, and automatically appear in the timeline.
For example, if I change the position of an object in design mode, then that object will simply appear in the new position and stay there. But if I move the object in animation mode, a path will be created and during playback, the object will move from the old to a new location.
You can read more about the difference here.
Dashboard and Interface
The interface for design and animation modes is the same, only the design mode is blue while the animation mode is orange. We’ll demonstrate animation mode here since it’s the default choice.
The primary difference between Lite and Expert mode is a revamped toolbar and an expanded timeline. All other objects remain in the same place. Instead of having individual tabs for sets, backgrounds, etc, all premade assets are found in the market tab. Then, tools are available below.
There are lots of new tools in expert mode, so let’s take a look.
Selection and Direct Selection: These tools let you select objects from the scene. Using the former, you can resize an object, but the latter will only allow you to move it.
Sometimes when using the selection tool, you may see this message:
Generally, you should have no issue with either option and pick based on how complicated you need the behavior of that item to be.
Animatron does a good job providing the tools you would need to start constructing your own graphics and animations. Each of the art tools has options like stroke, opacity, color, and weight, while the selection tool will let you further tweak details like position and orientation.
Rather than plus and minus buttons to determine your scene length, you can adjust the red bar to determine how long it should be.
You’ll also notice that some items have small black diamonds in their timeline- these are keyframes. To create them, simply move the black slider to the time you want in your scene. Then, adjust a feature of your object. A black diamond will appear. When you play your video, a transition between the initial state and the keyframe will be created- for example, a movement from one side to another.
For extra fine-tuning, you can even expand an object with keyframes and tweak the specific changes.
For example, this graphic experiences translation, opacity, and scaling. I can change these individually when I expand it in the timeline.
The colored square (orange shown here) will hide or show an item from the scene.
You may also notice a few buttons on the top left of the timeline. These are to add layers, duplicate, trash, and combine layers. You can use them to simplify your workflow.
Scenes, Exporting, & Etc.
In expert mode, many features are identical to those of lite mode. You can still add assets and scenes the same way as before- drag and drop. The scenes sidebar doesn’t change and offers the same transitions. Additionally, all export and sharing options remain identical as well. The one main difference is that all assets are now in the market tab instead of their own. However, it’s all the same content.
Reasons Behind My Ratings
I was very satisfied with the pricing structure for this software. The free plan really lets you experience nearly everything, and assets are not locked in tiers – once you pay, you have access to all of them, not just some. Instead, you’ll be charged for additional storage space, publication rights, or higher export qualities.
At around 15$ a month for the Pro plan and $30 a month for the Business option, this seems like a good deal for a capable software.
Ease of Use: 3/5
Animatron is fairly easy to use, although I did have some complaints. I like that there are two modes, allowing people to get used to the program and then expand their horizons. It’s easy to pick up regardless of your goal, and you can very quickly make an introductory video. However, some things are unintuitive or difficult.
For instance, if I want to change the background to a solid color, I need to go to project settings- there are no solid backgrounds in the background tab. The overlapping timeline objects in lite mode can also be frustrating to work with, but the expert timeline is super simple by contrast, especially since you can expand it.
Interestingly, Animatron reserves email support for paid plans, so I reached out to their live chat instead for help when I couldn’t figure out why there were no search bars.
They gave me a clear and informative answer, but it definitely wasn’t in an hour like the bot claimed – I messaged them on a Monday afternoon, and did not receive a response until 2 am in the morning on Tuesday. This could perhaps be explained by time zones, but if so they should post business hours.
There’s also a community forum if you would rather find support from peers, and an extensive library of FAQ documents and videos.
I docked one star for the slow live chat experience because they didn’t live up to their own expectations, but otherwise, the support seems pretty robust and gives you plenty of options.
Alternatives to Animatron
Adobe Animate: If you really enjoy working with the animations in the expert timeline and want more power, Adobe Animate is a good next step. It’s a professional-level program with a steep learning curve, but offers an expansion of things you can experiment with in Animatron. Read our full Animate review.
VideoScribe: For a focus on whiteboard animation, VideoScribe is a good choice. They focus specifically on the whiteboard style, and offer a simpler platform than Animatron for making your videos. It may be a better fit if you’re creating educational or only whiteboard content. Read our full VideoScribe review.
To say it simply, Animatron is an all-around good program. It fills a niche for business users that will appreciate the marketing content and ad integrations, while allowing new users or hobbyists to play around with the program for free. Despite some complaints, it is very capable and I would recommend the program to anyone that wants to dip their feet in some animation and video creation.
So, do you find this Animatron review helpful? Share your thought below.
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