Upon the launch of Apple's premium speaker, nearly all critics merited the device for its excellent sound quality, but at the same time they expressed dismay at Apple for not giving it enough "smart" features. The absence of such capabilities is perhaps the reason why a number of naysayers still regard it as a glorified Bluetooth speaker.
Well, that's changing soon. It appears the HomePod is due for some much-needed upgrades. Apple has just seeded a private beta for the speaker to corporate and some retail employees, and now iGeneration is reporting that the HomePod OS 12.0 beta, allegedly launching alongside iOS 12 this fall, has several new major features related to Siri.
The beta reportedly includes phone call features, which will allow HomePod users to place and answer calls directly using the speaker. It also has a new Find My iPhone feature that's performed via a Siri command. Most importantly, support for multiple timers are apparently on the cards as well.
At its current state, the HomePod is an excellent speaker with an innovative technology to boot: it uses its six-microphone array to pick up voices in the room, and it also determines the objects around it and then makes sound quality adjustments. Because of its limited smart features, it's no competition for Amazon Echo and Google Home, both of which sport far more sophisticated voice control functionalities. For example, placing a call using the Echo or the Google Home is easily done while downright cumbersome on the HomePod.
Making And Answering Calls On Apple HomePod
Case in point: if users want to hear the call from their HomePod, they have to place a call on their phone and then switch the audio output to the HomePod once the call begins. Similarly, when the user's phone receives a call, the HomePod doesn't ring. Users must first answer the call and then reroute the audio to the HomePod. This system is far too convoluted for Apple's "it just works" image and also indicates that it didn't put much thought when it came to making the HomePod a more robust home speaker.
Worry not, however: the above-mentioned features are allegedly now in testing. Users will soon also be able to dial numbers, answer incoming calls, listen to voicemails, and search their call history directly on the HomePod. Apple has also confirmed that HomePod users will be able to join FaceTime calls as audio-only participants. No clue as to when this feature will arrive, though.
Find My iPhone Using HomePod
Find My iPhone, as mentioned, will also be part of the forthcoming changes, allowing users to locate their phone simply by asking Siri.
Setting Multiple Timers Using HomePod
Perhaps the most notable alleged upgrade is the ability to set multiple timers, something Echo devices are already excellent at. With this feature, users can set different timers and have them run simultaneously, which should make multitasking in the kitchen much easier.
There's no concrete timeframe for when these features will arrive, but hopefully, Apple does release them this fall, which is when users are also expected to get iOS 12, macOS Mojave, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12.