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HomePod and HomePod mini haven't received as much love from Apple in recent OS updates, as have the rest of the lineup, but recently The released 17.0 update did bring us some new features that we can test.
HomePod Software Update 17 became available to users towards the end of September, and Apple is about to release version 17.1, which will bring additional improvements.
We've been testing the new updates over the past few weeks, and while they aren't flashy features, they are significant quality-of-life improvements.
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Like Apple with all other platforms, users no longer have to start Siri calls with “hey.” Users can now say “Siri, ____” to ask Apple's digital assistant a question.
The same goes for iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac. Apple TV doesn't support hands-free Siri, and you need to summon Assistant by pressing a dedicated button on the Siri Remote.
Users can now also start an AirPlay session on HomePod by asking their iPhone to do so. Instead of launching an app and then manually launching it, you can complete the entire process using your voice.
Phone calls on HomePod
If you receive a phone call on HomePod, There was no easy way to mute the ringer. Apple has addressed this issue with version 17.0 of its software.
Press the top of the HomePod during a call to mute the microphone. The green status indicator in the center will decrease.
Clicking on it again will enlarge it to full size. When you're done, double-tap to end the call.
Apple added similar functionality to AirPods Pro with iOS 17.
HomePod with Apple TV
Our favorite new feature is using HomePods with Apple TV. Apple allows you to use a pair of HomePod mini or full-size HomePods as speakers with your set-top box.
The large speakers even support Dolby Atmos 3D audio. We found that dialogue could sometimes be muddy due to the large amount of bass.
With HomePod software versions 17 and 17.1, you can now enhance speech for HomePod and HomePod mini.
This allows you to make dialogue clearer and separate it from other channels. We've already tested it on our HomePod minis and it works quite well.
Update your HomePods
Apple will automatically push updates to your HomePod, although you can install them manually them by opening HomePod in the Home app.
HomePod Software Update 17 is available now, with version 17.1 coming soon.