Hands-On With the HomePod’s New Multi-User Detection and Ambient Sound Features

Apple in late October released a new 13.2 software update for the HomePod with a bunch of new features, but it turned out the update was bricking some HomePods.

Apple addressed the bug in an updated 13.2.1 software release a couple days later, making the new functionality available without the risk of ruining a ‌HomePod‌. In our newest YouTube video, we go over all of the new ‌HomePod‌ features for MacRumors readers who may have been put off by the bug reports.

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Multi-User Support and Voice Detection


With the new update, ‌HomePod‌ can distinguish between different users in the household, introducing multi-user support for the first time.

Siri is able to tell who is speaking, allowing each person in the home to access their own selection of music, playlists, radio stations, and preferences.


Setting up multi-user support requires a device running iOS 13.2 or later, and you need to invite your family members to be a member in the Home app. From there, open the Home app, choose Home Settings, tap on your user profile under people, and then turn on the "Recognize My Voice" option.

Apple has more info on setup in a dedicated support document.

Handoff Support


If you're listening to a song on your iPhone and want to transfer it over to your ‌HomePod‌, you can do so with iOS 13.2.1's new Handoff feature.

To use Handoff, have a song playing on the iPhone and then bring it over to the top of the ‌HomePod‌. The audio playing on the iPhone will swap over to the ‌HomePod‌, pausing audio on the iPhone. You'll get a notification letting you know about the transfer of content, and while this feature is still a bit buggy, it's useful.

Handoff works with the Apple Music app, podcasts, phone calls, and more. If you don't want to use the feature, you can turn it off in the Settings app by going to General > AirPlay > Handoff and toggling off "Transfer to ‌HomePod‌."

Adding Music to HomeKit Scenes


When creating or editing a ‌HomeKit‌ scene, you can now add songs from your ‌Apple Music‌ Library. You can, for example, create a "Good Morning" or "Relax" scene that does things like change the lighting and start a song playing on ‌HomePod‌.


Just select the "‌HomePod‌" option when creating a scene under the list of accessories. From there, choose the "Play Audio" option and then select "Choose Audio" to select a song.

Ambient Sounds


The 13.2.1 update also introduces a neat new feature called Ambient Sounds, which is designed to let you ask Siri to play relaxing sounds like rain, white noise, and more.

There are seven different options that you can choose from:

  • Rain

  • Stream

  • White Noise

  • Fireplace

  • Forest

  • Night

  • Ocean

To use Ambient Sounds, just ask ‌Siri‌. Asking ‌Siri‌ to play Ambient Sounds will select a random sound, but you can also ask for a specific sound with a command like "Hey ‌Siri‌, play rain sounds."

Setting a Sleep Timer


Ambient Sounds can be set up with a sleep timer so that the noise automatically turns off after a set period of time. When an Ambient Sound is playing, ask ‌Siri‌ to set a sleep timer for a set amount of time.

"Hey ‌Siri‌, set a sleep timer for 45 minutes," for example, will play the ambient noises for 45 minutes before the ‌HomePod‌ turns off.

If you don't want to listen to Ambient Sounds, this also works with any music that happens to be playing.

Downloading the Update


Downloading the new ‌HomePod‌ software can be done by opening up the Home app, selecting "Home Settings" after tapping the house icon in the upper left corner, and choosing the "Software Update" option. If the "Install Updates Automatically" feature is turned on, your ‌HomePod‌ has likely already updated to 13.2.1.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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How to Play Ambient Sounds on HomePod

Apple released a new 13.2.1 HomePod software update in October 2019 that brings the ability to play relaxing high-quality soundtracks with Ambient Sounds. This article explains how to use them.


The software update will be installed automatically on the ‌HomePod‌, but you can also manually update and check your software version by following the instructions in our HomePod software how-to.

How to Play Ambient Sounds on ‌HomePod‌


The Ambient Sounds feature offers seven continuous streaming options. They include the following:
  • Rain

  • Stream

  • White Noise

  • Fireplace

  • Forest

  • Night

  • Ocean
To start streaming one of the sounds on your ‌HomePod‌, simply ask Siri. To play White Noise for example, you would say "Hey ‌Siri‌, play white noise sounds."

You can also get ‌HomePod‌ to play a random ambient sound by saying "Hey ‌Siri‌, play sounds."

How to Set a Sleep Timer on ‌HomePod‌


Additionally, you can play an ambient sound and set a sleep timer so that it automatically stops playing after a certain period of time has passed.

First, get ‌HomePod‌ to play an ambient sound using one of the phrases above, then say "Hey ‌Siri‌, set a sleep timer for 45 minutes," or however long you want it to play for.

If you listen to the ‌HomePod‌'s ambient sounds very carefully, you may notice that they loop after about 15 minutes, but it's not something you're likely to pick up on if you're using them as background audio for focus or relaxation.

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How to Delete Siri Audio History and Opt Out of Siri Audio Sharing on HomePod

This article explains how to delete your Siri audio interaction history and opt out of sharing audio recordings with Apple on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Earlier this year, it was discovered that Apple hired contractors to listen to a small percentage of anonymized ‌Siri‌ recordings to evaluate the virtual assistant's responses with the purpose of improving accuracy and reliability.

The Guardian revealed that Apple employees working on ‌Siri‌ often heard confidential details while listening to the audio recordings. Apple was subsequently criticized for not making it clear to customers that some of their ‌Siri‌ recordings were being used to improve the service.

Soon after the report, Apple suspended its ‌Siri‌ grading practices and promised users that it would introduce tools in a forthcoming update that would allow them to opt out of sharing their audio recordings.

With the release of iOS 13.2 in October, those new tools arrived on iPhone and ‌iPad‌, allowing users to delete their ‌Siri‌ and Dictation history and opt out of sharing audio recordings. With the release of the 13.2.1 software update for HomePod, the same tools are also available for Apple's smart speaker.

It's important to note that ‌HomePod‌'s ‌Siri‌ settings are independent from your iOS device's ‌Siri‌ settings, so if you want to opt out of ‌Siri‌ Audio Sharing and delete your ‌Siri‌ audio history completely, you'll have to disable them separately.

The following steps show you how to access these settings on ‌HomePod‌. To learn how to disable them on iPhone, ‌iPad‌, and ‌iPod touch‌, click here.

How to Opt Out of ‌Siri‌ Audio Sharing on ‌HomePod‌


  1. Launch the Home app on your iPhone, ‌iPad‌, or ‌iPod touch‌.

  2. Press and hold the ‌HomePod‌ button in your Favorite Accessories. If it's not in your Favorites, tap the Rooms icon at the bottom of the screen and select the Room where your ‌HomePod‌ is located using the room selector in the top-left corner of the screen.
    home
  3. Tap the cog icon in the bottom-right corner of the ‌HomePod‌ card to take you to the device's settings.

  4. Tap Analytics & Improvements.

  5. If you don't want to let Apple review your recordings, toggle off the switch next to Improve ‌Siri‌ & Dictation.
    home
Note that you can tap the link under the toggle for more information relating to Apple's ‌Siri‌ analytics policy.

How to Delete Your ‌Siri‌ Audio History on ‌HomePod‌


  1. Launch the Home app on your iPhone, ‌iPad‌, or ‌iPod touch‌.

  2. Press and hold the ‌HomePod‌ button in your Favorite Accessories. If it's not in your Favorites, tap the Rooms icon at the bottom of the screen and select the Room where your ‌HomePod‌ is located using the room selector in the top-left corner of the screen.
    home
  3. Tap the cog icon in the bottom-right corner of the ‌HomePod‌ card to take you to the device's settings.

  4. Tap ‌Siri‌ History.
    home
  5. Tap Delete ‌Siri‌ History.
Apple will inform you that your request was received and that your ‌Siri‌ and dictation history will be deleted. That's all there is to it.

In addition to these new ‌Siri‌ and Dictation-related privacy features, Apple also says it is making further changes to its human grading process that will minimize the amount of data that reviewers have access to.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Tags: Siri, privacy
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple Releases Updated 13.2.1 Software for HomePod After 13.2 Update Bricked Some Devices

Apple today released a new 13.2.1 software update for the HomePod, which comes a few days after the 13.2 update. Shortly after Apple's 13.2 ‌HomePod‌ software was released, complaints of bricked devices surfaced.

Multiple users complained that the update rendered their HomePods nonfunctional, locking it into a boot loop, especially after resetting the device or removing it from the Home setup after installing the update.


Apple pulled the 13.2 software after a few hours, and warned customers against resetting their HomePods or removing them from the Home app.

The new 13.2.1 version of the software presumably does not feature the same bricking issue, and its release notes are the same as the 13.2 update:
iOS 13.2.1 provides support for new ‌‌HomePod‌‌ features:

- The ability for ‌‌HomePod‌‌ to recognize the voices of different family members to provide a personalized experience
- Handoff music, podcasts, or phone calls by bringing your iPhone close to ‌‌HomePod‌‌
- Add music to your ‌HomeKit‌ scenes
- Play relaxing high-quality soundtracks with Ambient Sounds
- Set sleep timers to fall asleep to music or Ambient Sounds
The new ‌‌HomePod‌‌ software will be installed automatically on the ‌‌HomePod‌‌, but you can also manually update and check your software version by following the instructions in our HomePod software how to.

Customers who did install the 13.2 update and ended up with a bricked ‌HomePod‌ will need to contact Apple for a replacement unit.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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New 13.2 Update Bricking Some HomePods

Apple today released new 13.2 software for the HomePod with long-awaited features like Handoff and voice detection for different family members, but unfortunately, some users are running into problems with the update.


According to multiple people on the MacRumors forums and Reddit, the 13.2 update "bricked" their HomePods, rendering them unusable. Users who are seeing problems are experiencing a "white swirl" on both of their HomePods, or an endless reset loop. From the MacRumors forums:
I have two HomePods with the same issue you describe after the update 13.2. HomePods both stopped responding after the update. I reset both HomePods hoping to fix the problem, but now I have a white swirl on top of both, and the install pop-up does not work on either HomePods, and I can no longer reset both HomePods because the long press on top no longer functions. Just an endless white swirl. I will wait a while to see if others have similar issues before contacting Apple support.
Some people had issues immediately after installing the new software, while others have had problems after resetting their devices following the update. Some users have also reported that the problem happened installing the 13.2 software before updating to iOS 13.2. From Reddit:
Updated ‌HomePod‌ remotely through ‌HomePod‌ before updating phone, once back at home updated phone to 13.2. Now the phone update was complete I never saw the new features splash screen so started looking through menus to see if new features were showing, although maybe nothing had change in menu anyway on 13.2, either way I removed the ‌HomePod‌ from the home app to begin a hard reset. On powering back up to begin red ring reset, ‌HomePod‌ appeared to be constantly reboot every 8-10secs not allowing enough time for the red ring to reset.
We thought that the perceived ‌HomePod‌ issues may have been linked to an Apple Music outage lasting for a few hours today right after the 13.2 software came out, but that may not be the case.

Some people with affected HomePods have already contacted Apple Support and have been able to arrange replacement devices. From Reddit:
My update worked but the voice recognition wasn’t working so I removed it from Apple home. Then I tried to factory reset it and boom. Hit a brick wall. Quite literally. Home pod is now bricked. Been into support earlier this evening and they are sending me a box to send it in for repair.
Given the multitude of reports about malfunctioning HomePods, those that have not updated to the new software should avoid doing so. If you have updated, you should avoid resetting your ‌HomePod‌ at the current time.

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Apple Releases New Software for HomePod Alongside iOS 13.2 With Handoff, Voice Detection for Different Family Members and Ambient Sounds

Alongside of the release of iOS 13.2, a major new update that introduces a long list of new features and changes, Apple has also debuted a new software update that's designed for the HomePod.

The new ‌HomePod‌ software will be installed automatically on the ‌HomePod‌ after you update to iOS 13.2, but you can also manually update and check your software version by following the instructions in our HomePod software how to.


After installing the software update, the ‌HomePod‌ will be able to distinguish between different voices for the first time. That means Siri is able to recognize the voices of everyone in the family, which will allow each person in the home to listen to their own music, playlists, radio stations, and more.

‌HomePod‌ now supports Handoff, so you can hand off music, phone calls, and podcasts from the iPhone to the ‌HomePod‌ and vice versa. If you come home from work, for example, and are listening to music on the iPhone, you can beam it right over to the ‌HomePod‌ so you can continue listening without missing a beat. You can also add music to your HomeKit scenes after upgrading to iOS 13.2.

The new software brings a new Ambient Sounds feature that lets you play relaxing soundtracks like rain falling, nature sounds, white noise, and more, plus you can set sleep timers to fall asleep to these new Ambient Sounds or to music.
iOS 13.2 provides support for new ‌HomePod‌ features:

- The ability for ‌HomePod‌ to recognize the voices of different family members to provide a personalized experience
- Handoff music, podcasts, or phone calls by bringing your iPhone close to ‌HomePod‌
- Add music to your ‌HomeKit‌ scenes
- Play relaxing high-quality soundtracks with Ambient Sounds
- Set sleep timers to fall asleep to music or Ambient Sounds
For more on the ‌HomePod‌, make sure to check out our HomePod roundup.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Deals Spotlight: Costco Discounts Apple’s HomePod to $199.97 ($100 Off)

Costco is offering Apple's HomePod for $199.97 today, which is about $100 off the regular price of $299.00. The retailer is only selling the Space Gray version of the HomePod, but those who place an order can expect the speaker to arrive within three to five business days (with an added $4.99 for shipping and handling).


At $199.97, this is one of the lowest prices we've seen on the HomePod, and is a good chance for anyone looking to add more of Apple's smart speakers to their HomeKit setup. Of course, you'll need a Costco account to see the deal, which starts at $60/year. If you're a member, head to Costco today to browse the HomePod sale before it expires.

Apple dropped the price of the HomePod from $349.00 to $299.00 in April 2019. This price drop followed numerous discounts from well-known retailers like Target, Costco, and Best Buy, most of which began following a big discount on the HomePod during Black Friday 2018.

Related Roundups: Apple Deals, HomePod
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PSA: HomePod Supports Live Radio Requests, But Even UK Users Can’t Stream BBC Radio Stations

Apple has been rolling out HomePod support for live radio requests to Siri over the last few months, and now users in several countries are reporting success when asking their Apple smart speaker to play live radio stations.


After announcing the feature at WWDC in June, Apple said it would launch on September 30, but the company recently removed the date from its HomePod product page, suggesting an official global rollout is basically complete.

Apple began testing the live radio request feature in July, starting in Germany, but station requests to Siri on HomePod are now being routinely fulfilled in many countries including the U.S. and the U.K. HomePod owners should have around 100,000 radio stations to choose from, according to Apple, with the broadcast catalog drawn from iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn.

MacRumors has been testing the Siri feature on HomePod after updating to iOS 13.1.2, but it's still a bit finicky. Radio requests have to be specifically worded – without key words like "radio station" in the question, Siri will often revert to an Apple Music search. Also, only some users appear to be seeing a new Broadcast Radio section in the Music app's Radio tab that lists available stations.

In addition, HomePod owners in the United Kingdom who were hoping to listen to BBC Radio will be disappointed to learn that the British broadcaster has removed its flagship stations from the TuneIn catalog, after the U.S.-based radio app refused to share information on its listeners.


The BBC now wants people to access its content through BBC apps and via Alexa so that it can collect analytics and better understand what people are consuming, but unfortunately that has left only a handful of local BBC stations and the BBC World Service accessible through HomePod.

According to Apple's website, additional HomePod features specific to iOS 13, including multi-user support, music handoff, and Ambient Sounds, will not launch until "later this fall."

Related Roundups: HomePod, iOS 13, iPadOS
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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HomePod Gaining New ‘Ambient Sounds’ Siri Feature This Fall, Radio Station Support Launching September 30

Apple this week quietly updated the HomePod's product page on Apple.com, including a few release dates for upcoming features (via 9to5Mac). HomePod will gain the ability to tune into live radio stations through Siri controls on September 30, after this feature was first announced at WWDC in June (and made available to some users in Germany this July).


Additional HomePod features, including multi-user support and music handoff, will not launch until "later this fall." With iOS 13, Siri on HomePod can recognize the voices of different HomePod users, queuing up each person's favorite music on the speaker. Handoff lets any media you have playing on your iPhone or iPad be handed off to the HomePod.

One new feature has also been added to the HomePod page on Apple.com, called "Ambient Sounds." Apple says that you'll be able to relax to sounds like ocean waves, forest birds, rainstorms, and more with this feature, also coming in the fall.


It sounds like the company is working on making ambient noise a big new feature of the HomePod, after being requested by users since the speaker launched in early 2018. Although Apple Music has a multitude of ambient noise playlists, this should make it even easier to start playing relaxing sounds on HomePod.

There have been numerous announcements from Apple this week thanks to the iPhone event yesterday, including the all new iPhone 11 family, the new 10.2-inch iPad, and Apple Watch Series 5.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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HomePod Launches in Japan and Taiwan [Updated]

Update: On schedule, the HomePod has now launched in Japan and Taiwan.

Original story follows.



Apple's HomePod is set to launch in Japan and Taiwan next week, on Friday, August 23, Apple announced today. Ahead of the launch, Apple is accepting pre-orders through its online stores in Japan and Taiwan.


The HomePod is available for ¥32,800 in Japan and NT$9,900 in Taiwan, which is $10 to $15 higher than the price in the U.S. When the HomePod first launched in the United States in 2018, it was priced at $349, but the price was lowered to $299 in April of this year.

Apple announced plans to expand the HomePod to Japan and Taiwan earlier this summer, and added support for the new countries in the 12.4 software made available for the HomePod in late July.

Apple now sells the HomePod in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, China, and Hong Kong, along with Taiwan and Japan.

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