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Apple HomePod: Every Tip and Trick You Should Know



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The HomePod mini next to the original HomePod.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The recently released HomePod Mini is a smaller and cheaper version of the bigger one HomePod Apple came out in early 2018. Despite the differences in price and size, both HomePods are able to control your HomeKit devices, stream your favorite music or sending intercom messages to the rest of your house.

But there is so much more to the HomePod than meets the eye. For example, you can turn your HomePod on find your phone if you lost it in your home. You can even use it to make or receive calls.

However, before you can start using all the latest and greatest HomePod features, you need to make sure that the latest software is running. Below, I’ll walk you through updating your HomePod or HomePod Mini software, followed by several tips and tricks that will help you master Apple’s smart speaker.


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Simply install an Apple HomePod


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How to update the Apple HomePod

homepod software update workflow

Your HomePod should update the software automatically without you having to do anything, but it’s a good idea to check it once in a while.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Before updating the software on your HomePod, double check the software on your iPhone ($ 599 at Apple) is up-to-date in Settings > General > Software update. We have more detailed instructions here, should you need a refresher.

To update the software on your HomePod, open the Home app on your iOS device. Tap on it House icon in the top left corner, scroll down and tap House Settings. Then scroll down and tap Software Updating. The app will check for available updates and if one is available it will ask you if you want to install it. When everything is up to date, you are good to go.

apple-homepod-setup

Jason Cipriani / CNET

All Apple HomePod Features You Should Know About

Despite not having a dedicated app on your iOS device or an interface on the HomePod itself, you can do quite a bit with Apple’s smart speaker. Below are some tips and tricks.

Initial setup is a breeze

Serious. It’s as easy as plugging in the HomePod, waiting a few seconds for it to boot up, then unlocking your iPhone and placing it next to the HomePod. You’ll see a warning on your iPhone to let you know there’s a HomePod nearby ready to be set up, then you’ll be guided through the rest of the process. It’s unbelievably cool and incredibly easy.

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There are tons of settings to check out.

CNET

Check the settings again

From blocking explicit music to knowing when Siri is actually listening, you can access HomePod settings by opening the Home app and long-pressing the HomePod tile. Scroll down past the currently playing screen and you will find all the settings you can adjust. Take a few minutes to adjust it to your liking.

“Siri, call Mom.”

You can use the HomePod to make or receive calls. Ask Siri to answer your phone or ask it to make a call using the contact’s name. If you want to transfer a call from your phone to now dial via HomePod.

Set the Pandora default music app HomePod

Prefer Pandora over Apple Music? You are lucky.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Hit Apple Music as the default music service

With the release of iOS 14, Apple has added deeper integration for music apps and the HomePod. More specifically, Apple now allows you to stream from third-party apps such as Pandora, both as a secondary streaming option and as a default service.

Your streaming service of choice will need to update its iPhone or iPad ($ 239 at Back Market) app so you can add it to the Home app. Pandora is one such app that has done just that. Spotify hasn’t done that until now.

With the latest version of Pandora installed on your phone, open the app and tap it Profile tab. Then select it Gear settings, then tap the option labeled Connect to HomePod. Follow the instructions.

When you’re done with that, you have two options. You can leave Apple Music as the default service and if you want to use Pandora, use a command like, “Hey Siri, play ’90s hip hop on Pandora.”

You can also set Pandora as the default service by using the Home app and go to your home settings, select your profile under users and tap Standard service > Pandora. With that change made, every time you ask Siri to play a song on a HomePod, your Pandora account will be set by default.

Spotify users, you’re still in luck … kind of

If you are using an app that has not been updated to work directly on the HomePod, such as Spotify, there is still a way to do it avoid using Apple Music on the HomePod. It’s not the best solution, but it is one nonetheless.

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You can listen to your intercom messages on your iPhone.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Use the new intercom function

If you have multiple HomePods, you can use them in your house or apartment as an intercom system. As long as they are running the latest software, you don’t have to do anything to set it up – just say “Hey Siri, intercom, it’s time to eat!” and a second or two later, a recording of your voice will play on all your HomePods. There’s more to it, so take care of it check out our full guide.

Can’t remember the name of a song? Ask for it through the text

This one is pretty cool. You can ask Siri to play a song that goes insert text ‘ and as long as you have the correct lyrics, Siri will start playing that song. Once in a while it will get the song right even if you don’t have the right lyrics.

Where is my iPhone?

That’s all you need to ask Siri, which will then ask if you want to play a sound on the phone to help you find it.

Create multiple timers

Hey Siri, start a timer for 15 minutes.Keep in mind that you can’t create two timers at the same time. You need to start one, wait for Siri to stop listening for commands, and then restart the process.

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Two HomePod Minis can be paired for stereo sound.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Two speakers equals stereo sound

If you happen to have two HomePods, you can plug them in to play in stereo or stream the same audio to multiple speakers in different rooms. Here is how to make a stereo pair. Keep in mind that you will need two HomePods of the same type. You can even use two of the larger HomePods as a home theater replacement with your Apple TV ($ 180 at Best Buy); here’s how.

Yes, the original HomePod can leave a ring

But you can avoid that silicone band along the bottom against damage your wooden table, desk or shelf.

With each software update, Apple also adds more features and capabilities to the HomePod. So it’s a good idea to make sure you have know everything about iOS 14. If you’re still trying to decide if the HomePod or HomePod Mini is right for you, we analyze the differences. And here’s our HomePod Mini review (spoiler: if you use an iPhone you will love it).


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