Apple HomePod update brings voice identification, ambient sounds and more

Alongside iOS 13.2, Apple has found time to give its HomePod smart speaker a handful of additional features.

The biggest addition is one of the neatest features found in other smart speakers on the market. Yes, Siri will now be able to recognise whose voice is whose and compensate accordingly, without you needing to switch accounts. 

That means that if one family member asks to play a certain song, it won’t wreck recommendations for other people in the household. It also means that messages and reminders should only go to the intended recipient.

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Another neat incoming feature is Handoff which is basically a simple way to switch audio from your iPhone to your HomePod, be it putting a call on extra-loud speaker phone, or transferring your music or podcast without a single second missed. 

If you keep the HomePod in the bedroom, there are extra bonuses for those who struggle to sleep. The software update beings Ambient Sounds, which is a selection of relaxing background audio clips to help you drift off. The update also brings sleep timers, letting you play audio for a certain amount of time before it cuts out, leaving the room in silence.

Finally, you can add music to your HomeKit scenes.

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The HomePod software update will be applied automatically to the speaker when you update to iOS 13.2, with no extra user intervention required, apparently. But you can try and force it to appear quicker by opening the Home app, pressing the house icon and selecting “Software Update.” 

And while these features are distinctly old hat to fans of the Echo or Google Home, they’re still very welcome to those who favour the Apple ecosystem. The HomePod, despite its high price and early limitations, is still an impressive product. “The HomePod sounds so good that I can forgive its price tag,” Evan wrote in our review. “But there are currently too many usability issues to rate it as a great smart speaker.” 

Hopefully updates like this will make it an easier recommendation in the future.

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