TV speakers are crap – that's a fact. And while a HomePod isn't necessarily designed to be a TV speaker, it does a pretty good job of room-filling sound for your movies and TV shows. Until now this has only been available with the Apple TV, but with AirPlay 2 landing on TVs from the likes of Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony - the HomePod can be paired with third-party sets. When watching something from your Apple TV, you can hold down the play/pause button on the Apple TV remote and choose the HomePod option. If you want it to be the default speaker permanently, go to your Apple TV settings, select the Video and Audio section, choose Audio Output and pick your HomePod. It gets even better when using the Apple TV 4K though - As part of Apple’s new ‘Home Theater with Apple 4K’ the first-gen HomePod can be used to form an immersive surround sound experience, with virtual 2.1, 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos all on offer. The caveat here is you only get that surround sound action when you’re watching stuff via your Apple TV 4K; you can’t just plug your HomePod directly into your TV and get Atmos action on everything. However, with Apple TV now supporting pretty much all the major streaming services - Netflix, Prime, HBO, Disney+, Hulu and more - it’s a pretty compelling argument to make that single HDMI input switch for your AV setup.
Not sure how to spell a word? Have no fear, Siri's got your back. Just ask, "Hey Siri, how do you spell [word]?" and your smart speaker will tell you what's what.
If you've got more than one HomePods, you can assign them to different rooms and use your phone or a Siri command to move audio from one room to another – very handy if you're moving from the kitchen to the living room and want your music to follow you. Go to Control Center on your phone and long press on the music playing tile, and you're able to configure the multiple room setup further.
Siri on your HomePod is smart enough to be able to identify songs based on their lyrics (as long as you haven't misheard them and can get them right, of course). Say "Hey Siri, what's that song that goes..." followed by a line or two to get a match – you can then ask to hear the song straight away as well, if you like.
The HomePod smart speakers can be operated through physical touch as well as through voice commands and your other Apple devices. As well as the volume controls, you can tap the top of the speaker to play or pause your music (or Siri), double-tap to skip a track, triple-tap to skip back a track, and touch and hold to activate Siri.
Simply say, "Hey Siri, what’s in the news?" and your smart speaker will read you the news bulletin – and there's a range of sources on offer as well. The good news is that these news readings are region-specific too - for example, BBC or Sky News in the UK.
There are all kinds of ways you can customize your HomePod or HomePod Mini, and you might not have come across them all yet. Something quick and easy you can do is to rename your HomePod smart speaker – just long press on the device in the Home app, then tap on Settings, then tap on the current title.
While Siri is playing music for you, don't be afraid to say "Hey Siri, I like this" or "Hey Siri, I hate this." Siri will take your taste into account and adjust what music it plays for you based on your likes and dislikes.
If you want anyone in your home to be able to contribute to your grocery list, it just takes a simple tweak. Head to your iPhone's Settings app, then click Reminders and then iCloud. Choose Family and everyone will have access to the grocery list.
Having a HomePod is well and good, but you might want to make sure that other people in your home can take advantage of it, too. If you're using your HomePod as a smart home hub, you can also add other users in your 'Home' app, allowing them to control the smart speaker and all its paired devices just like you might. You'll practically feel the responsibility slipping off your shoulders.