Apple HomePod: Every tip and trick you need to know

Apple HomePod: Every tip and trick you need to know

The recently released HomePod Mini is a smaller and less expensive version of the larger HomePod Apple released in early 2018. Despite the price and size differences, both HomePods are capable of controlling your HomeKit devices, streaming your favorite music or sending Intercom messages to the rest of your home.

But there’s so much more to the HomePod than meets the ear. For example, you can ask your HomePod to find your phone if you’ve misplaced it in your home. You can even use it to make or receive phone calls.

apple-homepod-mini-4The HomePod mini next to the original HomePod. Chris Monroe/CNET

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

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Your HomePod should automatically update its software without you doing anything, but it’s a good idea to check once in awhile. 


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Before you update the software on your HomePod, double-check that 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 the Home icon in the top left corner, then scroll down and tap Home Settings. Next, scroll down and tap Software Update. The app will check for any available updates, and if one is available, you’ll be asked if you want to install it. If everything is up to date, you’re good to go.

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Jason Cipriani/CNET

All the Apple HomePod features you should know

Despite lacking a dedicated app on your iOS device, or an interface on the HomePod itself, there’s quite a bit you can do with Apple’s smart speaker. Below are some tips and tricks.

Initial setup is a breeze

Seriously. It’s as simple 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 an alert on your iPhone letting you know a HomePod that’s ready to be setup is nearby, and then you’ll be guided through the rest of the process. It’s incredibly cool and incredibly easy.

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There are plenty of settings for you to check out. 


CNET

Double-check the settings

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

‘Siri, call Mom.’

You can use the HomePod to make or receive phone calls. Tell Siri to answer your phone, or ask it to place a call by using the contact’s name. If you want to transfer a call from your phone to  now make phone calls through HomePod.

Set Pandora default music app HomePod
Prefer Pandora over Apple Music? You’re in luck. 


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Ditch Apple Music as the default music service

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

Your streaming service of choice will have to update its iPhone or iPad ($239 at Back Market) app in order for you to add it to the Home app. Pandora is one such app that has done just that. Spotify, thus far, has not.

With the latest version of Pandora installed on your phone, open the app and tap the Profile tab. Next, select the Settings gear, then tap the option labeled Connect with HomePod. Follow the prompts.

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

Alternatively, you can set Pandora as the default service by opening the Home app and going to your home settings, select your profile under users and tap Default Service > Pandora. With that change made, any time you ask Siri to play a song on a HomePod, it’ll default to your Pandora account.

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

If you use an app that hasn’t been updated to work directly on the HomePod, like Spotify, there’s still a way to avoid using Apple Music on the HomePod. It’s not the best workaround, but it’s one nonetheless.

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You can listen to your Intercom messages on your iPhone. 


Jason Cipriani/CNET

Use the new Intercom feature

If you have multiple HomePods, you can use them as an intercom system throughout your home or apartment. As long as they’re 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 of your HomePods. There’s more to it than that, so make sure to check out our full guide.

Don’t remember the name of a song? Ask for it by its lyrics

This one is pretty cool. You can ask Siri to play a song “that goes insert lyrics” and, as long as you have the right lyrics, Siri will begin playing that song. On occasion, it will get the song right even if you don’t have the right lyrics.

Where’s my iPhone?

That’s all you need to ask Siri, who 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 you can’t create two timers at the same time. You need to start one, wait for Siri to quit listening for commands, and then start the process again.

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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 own two HomePods, you can connect them to play in stereo or stream the same audio to multiple speakers in different rooms. Here’s how to create a stereo pair. Keep in mind you’ll need two of the same type of HomePods. Heck, you can even use two of the bigger 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 prevent the silicone band along its bottom from damaging your wood table, desk or shelf.

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

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