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

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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.


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.

Article Link: Hands-On With the HomePod's New Multi-User Detection and Ambient Sound Features
 

tubular

macrumors 6502
Oct 19, 2011
437
956
I like the HomePod a lot, but I still don’t seem to be able to get it to reliably do the stereo pairing thing. Is anyone else having this problem?
 
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TacoChowder

macrumors member
Aug 16, 2019
43
128
I like the HomePod a lot, but I still don’t seem to be able to get it to reliably do the stereo pairing thing. Is anyone else having this problem?
I've had to remove and readd mine twice in the two weeks I've had them. Seems to be stable now.
 

subjonas

macrumors 68020
Feb 10, 2014
2,187
1,833
Two questions:
- does voice recognition prevent someone from having access to personal information like text messages and calendar?

- how do you switch phone calls or music from one HomePod to another, if you move to a different room?
 
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eliogaming

macrumors newbie
Oct 28, 2019
18
34
Still waiting for a replacement HomePod before I get to try any of these features out, since they bricked my unit!
 
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th1nk

macrumors member
Nov 11, 2008
81
51
Music handoff just does not work with my iPhone X on latest update. I hope they fix it...
 

fmcshan

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2019
182
578
New Hampshire
Handoff is my favorite feature on the HomePod right now. When playing a song, waving my iPhone transitions the song over to the HomePod seamlessly. Also works for phone calls too.
- - Post merged: - -

Music handoff just does not work with my iPhone X on latest update. I hope they fix it...
Did you enable the setting in Settings>General>AirPlay & Handoff? It was disabled by default when I updated my iPhone.
 

fpnc

macrumors 68000
Oct 30, 2002
1,927
96
San Diego, CA
I don't know about the 13.2.1 update, as it seems that there are numerous reports about problems with HomePods after that update. My own HomePod has suddenly become very "dumb." Many forms of request that use to work on earlier versions of the software now fail under 13.2.1. My HomePod now responds frequently with statements like, "I can't get the answer to that on HomePod." Or, if I ask for the weather it responds, "Sorry, somethings wrong, please try again" (but it never works, even after power cycles, resets, and after having tried each day for over a week).

I never updated to 13.2 (I missed that catastrophe), but after updating to 13.2.1 there are MANY requests that use to work that now fail. It does still play music and podcasts and it can tell the time and I have the new features like the ambient sounds, but it seems like the HomePod has lost about half of its "mind" since the 13.2.1 update.

On the malfunctioning weather, some have suggested that turning off the personal voice recognition feature can fix that issue (and similar problems), but others report that didn't help and I've disabled that feature on my HomePod and I still can't get the weather (and other information that use to work).

Oh, and these features work fine on my iPad which is running 13.2 on the same network.
 

Ghost31

macrumors 68030
Jun 9, 2015
2,607
3,446
Multi user is a great feature that works....sometimes. I can’t say much about it I’ve only had my HomePod for a dew days, but it seems to work sometimes and others it’s like not in the mood to really wake up and do anything. I think my HomePod might have an attitude problem
 
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th1nk

macrumors member
Nov 11, 2008
81
51
Handoff is my favorite feature on the HomePod right now. When playing a song, waving my iPhone transitions the song over to the HomePod seamlessly. Also works for phone calls too.
- - Post merged: - -


Did you enable the setting in Settings>General>AirPlay & Handoff? It was disabled by default when I updated my iPhone.
Yes :( Thank you for caring.

Edit: I disabled and enabled this setting and now it is suddenly working. Or is it because you have to shake the iphone? I never tried that before... happy now 🤩
 

travoose

macrumors member
Oct 31, 2008
86
81
Central PA
I see quite a few people are having issues with their HomePods...I am in a similar situation? Since about two weeks ago, my HomePods function fine for media playback and even some Siri HomeKit commands, but between my AppleTVs and HomePods it always seems like one or more says “Needs Repair” in the HomeKit app. Not sure how to ”repair” it as when I go into that device’s tile it doesn’t show me any errors/accounts to sign into. I have tried removing/restoring/readding...done it all! Still no luck. Spent time on the phone with Apple, they copied some of my logs from my devices, but are still baffled. The most irritating thing is that this setup has not changed all (no devices added or taken away or even adjusted any settings) since iOS 12...so what happened and what is the fix? I know this is a first world problem, but I was excited to run my holiday lights off of it via Siri in the upcoming months, but now I most likely won’t be able to unless a fix is figure out. Such a shame.
 

goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,565
1,925
long island NY
Yes... an Apple device and Apple ID are needed to setup HomePod. And since an Apple device is needed for setup, clearly an Apple device, or service such as Apple Music, will be used to play music.

That is hardly greed. The same is true for the Apple Watch.
You insinuate that because someone used an iPhone to set up a HomePod that it’s the only device they would ever want to use on it. Something like a HomePod (speakers) is a devices used by an entire family and very often is used by friends. A “smart” speaker that can only be used with a handful of devices isn’t that smart. Also plenty of Apple users use Spotify or would want to use music that they purchased rather than be forced to just stream a service. All of this indicates greed because Apple wants no one but Apple users to be able to use the HomePod. An android user with music purchased from iTunes can’t play that music on HomePod. iPod was Mac only originally, it was vastly more popular when it came to windows.
 

citysnaps

macrumors 603
Oct 10, 2011
5,233
8,083
San Francisco
You insinuate that because someone used an iPhone to set up a HomePod that it’s the only device they would ever want to use on it. Something like a HomePod (speakers) is a devices used by an entire family and very often is used by friends. A “smart” speaker that can only be used with a handful of devices isn’t that smart. Also plenty of Apple users use Spotify or would want to use music that they purchased rather than be forced to just stream a service. All of this indicates greed because Apple wants no one but Apple users to be able to use the HomePod. An android user with music purchased from iTunes can’t play that music on HomePod. iPod was Mac only originally, it was vastly more popular when it came to windows.
And all of the above does not connote "greed." It's simply a product that doesn't meet your needs. There are probably a few dozen Bluetooth speakers that will meet your requirements. Simply pick one.

I have two HomePods and both exceed my expectations and needs.
 
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goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,565
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long island NY
And all of the above does not connote "greed." It's simply a product that doesn't meet your needs. There are probably a few dozen Bluetooth speakers that will meet your requirements. Simply pick one.

I have two HomePods and both exceed my expectations and needs.
How is Apple claiming Bluetooth is the best for music on iPhone but not HomePod because they want to restrict what devices you can connect to it not greed?
 
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citysnaps

macrumors 603
Oct 10, 2011
5,233
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How is Apple claiming Bluetooth is the best for music on iPhone but not HomePod because they want to restrict what devices you can connect to it not greed?
I'm not aware of Apple asserting Bluetooth is best for music on iPhone.

It is not greed. It's a design choice for what Apple intended HomePod to address; which is a standalone autonomous speaker to play Apple Music without the need for other powered-on devices. That HomePod also allows AirPlaying music from other devices, is a bonus.
 
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MJedi

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2010
766
188
I cannot get my HomePod to recognize my voice, even though I’ve followed all the instructions in their support document. Siri recognizes me fine on my iPhone. Anyone else having trouble with it?
 
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goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,565
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long island NY
It is not greed. It's a design choice for what Apple intended HomePod to address. I'm not aware of Apple asserting Bluetooth is best for music on iPhone.
A pretty terrible choice. Why would I want to connect someone to my personal WiFi to let them play music. What reason would they have to lock out Bluetooth other than to prevent other devices from using it? How is that a design choice. A design choice is the notch housing face-ID. There is literally no reason for them to do this other than pressuring people to only use Apple devices. Sounds like greed to me.
 

citysnaps

macrumors 603
Oct 10, 2011
5,233
8,083
San Francisco
A pretty terrible choice. Why would I want to connect someone to my personal WiFi to let them play music. What reason would they have to lock out Bluetooth other than to prevent other devices from using it? How is that a design choice. A design choice is the notch housing face-ID. There is literally no reason for them to do this other than pressuring people to only use Apple devices. Sounds like greed to me.
HomePod is not for you. Simply pick a Bluetooth speaker that meets your needs.

Since an Apple device is needed to setup HomePod, chances are you'll use your Apple device to AirPlay music to it. The majority of people, however, will use HomePod to play Apple Music autonomously. Which is the intent of the product.

It's simply not for you. There are other products that meet your needs.

Again, not supporting open Bluetooth does not connote greed. Apple is not making extra money with that design decision.
 
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goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,565
1,925
long island NY
HomePod is not for you. Simply pick a Bluetooth speaker that meets your needs.

Since an Apple device is needed to setup HomePod, chances are you'll use your Apple device to AirPlay music to it. The majority of people, however, will use HomePod to play Apple Music autonomously. Which is the intent of the product.

It's simply not for you. There are other products that meet your needs.

Again, not supporting open Bluetooth does not connote greed. Apple is not making extra money with that design decision.
You’re right that the main intention of the HomePod is to play music autonomously. But you can’t deny the fact that every Apple device has Bluetooth functionality except HomePod. You can play music to it direct only through airplay. You truly don’t think that is not even in the least bit suspicious? One of the main uses of Bluetooth is music playback but the only Apple product not to have it is a speaker?
 
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