The new set-top box is giving the original HomePod a new lease on life thanks to the built-in HDMI ARC and eARC technology that enables audio to travel through the set-top box – provided the TV also supports those ARC and eARC (Audio Return Channel) tech.
For example, if you own both products you’ll be able to use the original HomePod and an Apple TV to play the audio coming from the television set, or other products hooked up to the TV, such as the PS5, Xbox Series X, Blu-ray player, or your satellite/cable TV box.
This is a feature not supported by the current, more affordable HomePod mini, so it could be worth picking up one or two of the discontinued originals should they become available at a cut price in the weeks to come.
Given the original HomePod also offers Dolby Atmos technology and can be paired for surround sound, Apple is really throwing the Siri-powered smart speaker a lifeline (after throwing it under the bus).
Having not tested this yet we can’t speak to how effective the feature is. In the past we’ve experienced some latency issues when streaming from the Apple TV to secondary speakers, but it’s possible Apple has cleared all those up.
MacRumors has tried the feature and posted the following methodology below:
1) On your Apple TV, launch the Settings app.MacRumors
2) Select Video and Audio.
3) Select Default Audio Output. (Under “Default Audio Output,” make sure HomePod is selected.)
4) Under “Audio Return Channel (Beta),” select Play Television Audio. You’ll know ARC or eARC is turned on when it says On (ARC) or On (eARC).
Given HomePod isn’t going to be around for much longer (once they’re gone, they’re gone), despite remaining one of the best smart speakers, it suggests Apple could have more speakers in the pipeline that could make use of this handy new feature.