We really wanted to love the HomePod. But, when we reviewed it, we discovered the silicone base on Apple's smart speaker left a white, discoloured ring on our solid oak kitchen worktop that was treated with Danish oil. Corroborating our findings, other reports have now found that a HomePod can leave a white ring on the surface of treated wooden furniture. And the marks don't disappear.
So, here's how to stop your HomePod from ruining your stuff.
Why is HomePod leaving rings on wood surfaces?
Seriously, though, we're not chemists. It's unclear why the HomePod's silicone base is reacting to different oil finishes, but AppleInsider spoke to professional woodworkers who said they've often seen a similar reaction between silicone and various furniture polishes. Here's the thing: some wood oil treatments have drying agents with organic compounds, and these could be interacting with the HomePod's base.
Apple has already confirmed this issue to us. When questioned, the company said it was "not unusual" for a speaker with a silicone base to leave a "mild mark" when placed on certain oil or wax based wood finished surfaces, suggesting the marks are caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface. The company also said it can improve over several days after the speaker is removed.
Do the rings go away or can you fix them?
For us, the mark hasn't disappeared, and we'll have to sand and re-oil our worktop. It's certainly something to be careful of, especially if you're about to put the HomePod down on that rather nice worktop or quality piece of furniture. Apple told us to simply remove the HomePod from the wood surface, and if it doesn't self-correct, to try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer's suggested oiling method.
Apple also thinks that "wiping the surface gently with a soft damp or dry cloth" may also remove the marks. OK. Well, those of you who have these rings can try that. You can also wait a few days to see if any exposure to the sun, oxygen, and humidity helps the rings to naturally go away. But, as we said earlier, that didn't work for us. So, we'll have to fix it ourselves, or call a refinisher to do it for us. You might, too.
How to stop HomePod from ruining your wood furniture
In order to enjoy your HomePod without ruining your wood furniture, we recommend the following:
Move it to another location
Brilliant idea, right? We tested the HomePod on other materials - the same wood that hadn't been treated with Danish oil and a regular lacquered desk - and haven't seen the same issues. The Wirecutter also tested it on glass, granite, polyurethane-sealed wood, IKEA bookshelves, etc, and lo and behold, it saw no visible damage to those surfaces. So, try kitchen surfaces and mixed-wood or untreated furniture.
You could also try a DIY solution and mount it to a wall with a bracket. Good luck with that.
Put something underneath it
If you really must put HomePod on your treated furniture, rather than practically anywhere else, try putting some sort of barrier between the two. The HomePod is 5.6 inches wide, so most coasters will be too small, but we're sure you can find a decorative plate or something. On second thought, we Googled "extra large coasters" and found some big enough, so there you go. Just make sure it's solid and flat.
Why? If it's bumpy or rigid, it might affect your HomePod and stop it from properly outputting. The Verge noted that the HomePods aren’t meant to be put on a soft surface either, as the tweeters fire down, so putting it on a towel will impact the reflectivity of the sound.
Apple's own tips and tricks
Apple has responded to this controversy by publishing a support page with some suggested tips. The company recommends cleaning your HomePod with a dry cloth and warns not to use any household cleaners while doing so. It also has a section where you can "learn where to put HomePod", such as a solid surface that's indoors. Lastly, Apple recommends you keep HomePod from any heat source and liquids.
Bring it back to Apple
You might not want to hear this, but if you don't want to fuss around with moving the HomePod around, mounting it, finding something to put underneath it, etc, you could always just return it to Apple. You can return your HomePod to an Apple retail store within 15 calendar days of receiving it. You just need to bring a government-issued photo ID and confirmation of the order number.
Go to Apple's Returns and Refunds page to learn the specifics on how and where to return your HomePod.
Do you have any suggestions?
We'd love to hear your feedback. Have you suffered from #ringgate? Do you have any better solutions? Leave us a comment below.