Siri can control your HomeKit enabled kit from your HomePod, that's a given. But a much more natural, and cool, way of getting Siri working harder in your smart home is to create scenes that it can control. For example, set up a bedtime routine in which Siri turns off all the lights, activates the alarm and locks the front door – where a simple, "Hey Siri, it's bedtime," gets the scene started. Any scenes created in the Home app can be activated using Siri on your HomePod.
Siri's musicologist skills aren't limited to skipping tracks, rewinding and fast forwarding. Apple's digital assistant is quite the music buff – it's got all the knowledge (well, it's got a direct link to Wikipedia, at least). While listening to a song, you can ask things like, "Hey Siri, who plays the drums in this band?"… "What year was this album released?"… "Tell me something about this artist" and so on. Every day is a school day with Siri.
Siri's British accent is very, very robotic, and after a while it can also get very, very irritating. Much more natural are the American ones on offer – both male and female – and the Australian one definitely has the most personality. Head into your iPhone or iPad's Home app, long press or 3D Touch the HomePod's tile and you get the options to switch up some of Apple's personal assistant's settings – language, default voice and the like. You can also choose to mute the Apple digital assistant, if you want.
Wondering how to say something in another language? Wonder no more – Siri can translate English to French, German, Italian, Spanish and Mandarin. Simply ask, "Hey Siri, how do you say [word] in [language]?" to expand your vocabulary.
A more recent feature of the HomePod lets you ask Siri to make and take calls on the speaker. So first of all, make sure your HomePod is up to date. First you'll need to enable Personal Requests. Go to your HomePod settings and scroll down, you'll find Personal Requests under Siri. Switch it on. Then, just say, "Hey Siri, call [Name]". You can also say, "Hey Siri, answer my phone" to pick up and "Hey Siri, hang up" when you're done. Talking on your iPhone and struggling to hear the other person? You can transfer a call to the HomePod. Tap the audio icon on the iPhone and select the HomePod from your list of devices.
Greasy fingers? Just can't be bothered to find your phone? You can send a message through the HomePod. Just say, "Hey Siri, send a message to Sophie" then tell it what you want you want the personal assistant to say. It'll ask you if you're ready to send before it does so. You can even have Siri on HomePod read your latest text messages to you, but you'll need to have 'Personal Requests' switched on. Head into the Home app, go into the settings for the home in which the HomePod lives. Tap on the icon with your name on it under People then select Personal Requests at the bottom. You'll be able to ask Siri things like, "Read the latest message from Jeff". Note that below it there's a second option for adding authentication. You can switch this on to stop other people sending messages and causing other havoc with your account.
Music enthusiasts may tell you to ignore claims of 360-degree sound and the like - for the purist's music experience you need a stereo setup, with a left and right pair delivering the sounds artists intended. The good news is that's possible with your HomePod - along with multi-room audio as well. If you're setting up a new HomePod, and you choose to add it to a room where a HomePod already lives, then you'll see a pop-up asking you if you want to create a stereo pair. You can only pair the same models of HomePod though, so no Mini and original mixing. As for multi-room audio, you can go ahead and pair your HomePod to your Sonos speakers thanks to AirPlay 2.
The above method also works with any radio stations that have a web-based app, whether it's through the BBC iPlayer, TuneIn, or using a radio station's dedicated iOS app. Just look for the AirPlay logo in the app you're using and choose your HomePod from the list of available devices.
In the US, Pandora has already 'gone live' for HomePod users - meaning that you can set it as the default playback service and use Siri to navigate its digital catalog. Spotify wasn't listed as one of the music streaming partners in the Mini's keynote presentation, but it was confirmed in a briefing with The Ambient that Apple "would love to work with Spotify." There is a workaround for using Spotify and other streaming services not fully on board though Simply open the app on your iPhone and choose the song you want. Click the Devices Available button at the bottom, select More Devices and then choose your HomePod speaker. With AirPlay 2, you can even have the HomePod play with other AirPlay 2-supporting speakers, like the Sonos One or the Libratone Zipp 2.
One of the big selling points of HomePod is obviously voice control for music playback, but there are times when using your phone makes more sense. Apple has you covered on this front. From within the iOS Music app, choose the song you want, click the AirPlay logo and choose your HomePod. Or, from the lock screen, you'll see the Music widget – again, just tap that AirPlay icon and do the same as above. Finally, from the Control Center, either long-press or 3D Touch the music tile and you'll get a screen with all your current music playbacks on your Apple devices. Again, just hit the AirPlay button to transfer a song over to your HomePod, or choose the HomePod section if something is already streaming on your smart speaker. Remember, with AirPlay 2 you can pair two HomePods together easily from the AirPlay menu or even pair the HomePod with another AirPlay 2-supporting speaker.