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(Pocket-lint) - Got a HomePod or HomePod mini? Great! Aside from saying "Hey Siri, play me some music", there is plenty more these smart speakers can do.

Here we've detailed a load of HomePod and HomePod mini tips and tricks to get you started and show you what your Apple smart speaker can do including, how to ensure it is up to date with the latest version of software so you get all the latest features. 

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HomePod and HomePod mini setup tips and tricks

How to set up HomePod and HomePod mini

The HomePod set up is similar to setting up a pair of AirPods or Apple TV. You need to be on the latest version of iOS and have your iOS device near the speaker when you do.

  1. Turn on the HomePod or HomePod mini and wait for the light to glow on the top
  2. Put your iPhone or iPad near the HomePod or HomePod mini
  3. Tap Set Up
  4. Set which room the HomePod is going to be
  5. Choose whether or not to Enable Personal Requests. This is whether or not you want to be able to dictate text messages, add reminders, or take notes via the smart speaker.
  6. Agree to transfer your iCloud account, Wi-Fi and other HomeKit settings over to the speaker.
  7. Say "Hey Siri, what can you do?" followed by "Hey Siri, play some music"

How to update your HomePod

To update your HomePod to the latest version of iOS and ensure you benefit from any new features that appear, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Home app on your iPhone or iPad
  2. Tap the House icon in the upper left-hand corner
  3. Tap 'Home Settings'
  4. Scroll down and tap Software Update
  5. Tap the 'Update (All)' button to begin the update or pull down to see if there is one
  6. Tap 'Agree' on the Terms and Conditions page.

Don't unplug the cable from the HomePod

It might be tempting if you are trying to get the cable down the back of a sideboard, or through a hole, but while possible, it's not recommended to pull the plug out of the back of the HomePod or HomePod mini. According to internal support documents, uncovered by MacRumours, whipping out the cable to get the cable through a desk hole or behind the back of something isn't recommended:  

"The HomePod includes a built-in power cable that should not be removed. In the rare instance that the cable is detached or damaged, do not attempt to remove or plug it back into HomePod. If the cable is removed or impaired, damage could have occurred to the cable or the internal components of HomePod."

Proceed with caution.

If your HomePod doesn't sound right, pick it up

The HomePod and HomePod mini both feature an accelerometer that detects when the speaker has been moved so it can automatically whizz through the sound setup procedure again.

If for some reason you aren't happy with the sound your speaker is creating, pick up the HomePod or HomePod mini, lift it in the air, and replace it where you want the speaker to go. This should automatically force the speaker to calibrate the sound again - something that takes seconds, and the audio should be improved. The chances are though, that you should never have to worry about doing this.

How to create a HomePod or HomePod mini stereo pair 

If you have two HomePods or two HomePod minis, you can create a stereo pair. We've got a full feature on this, but in a nutshell, follow the instructions below: 

  1. Make sure your HomePods or HomePod minis are running iOS 11.4 or later.
  2. Open the Home app on your iPhone or iPad.
  3. Touch and hold a HomePod in the list.
  4. Scroll down and tap on the Settings cog.
  5. Tap 'Create Stereo Pair'.
  6. Follow the onscreen instructions, such as selecting which will be left and right.

Use your HomePod or HomePod mini as a speaker for Apple TV 4K

If you have the Apple TV 4K, you can use your HomePod and HomePod mini as the default speaker, which is great if you don't have a soundbar and your TV sound isn't brilliant. We've got a separate feature on this, but here are the basic instructions:

Using your Apple TV

  1. Head to Settings on your Apple TV menu
  2. Select Video and Audio
  3. Select Default Audio Output
  4. Your HomePod mini should appear on the list, allowing you to select it.

Using your iPhone or iPad

If you want to connect your HomePod mini to your Apple TV using your iPhone or iPad, you'll first need to open the Home app. You'll then need to make sure your HomePod mini and your Apple TV are linked to the same room.

  1. Open the Home app
  2. Make sure your HomePod or HomePod mini and your Apple TV are linked to the same room
  3. Touch and hold the Apple TV tile
  4. Scroll down to the settings cog in the bottom right corner
  5. Tap on Default Audio Option
  6. Select the room with your HomePod or HomePod mini in it.

HomePod music tricks and tips

There are a number of ways you can control music playback on the HomePod. Either via voice commands to Siri, through the touch panel on the top of the speaker, or via the Apple Music app on your iPhone or iPad.

HomePod touch controls

You can tap the top of HomePod or HomePod mini to play, pause, skip a song, or adjust the volume. Touch and hold the top to talk to Siri.

  • Tap once to Play/Pause
  • Double-tap to skip to the next track
  • Triple tap to skip back to the previous track
  • Touch and hold to access Siri without saying "Hey Siri"
  • Tap or hold the plus icon to turn the volume up
  • Tap or hold the minus icon to turn the volume down

HomePod music voice controls

You can control the music playback of music played via the HomePod (ie not via AirPlay) by simply saying "Hey Siri". Here are some basic voice commands:

  • Hey Siri, turn the volume up
  • Hey Siri, turn the volume to 85 per cent
  • Hey Siri, turn the volume down
  • Hey Siri, stop
  • Hey Siri, play
  • Hey Siri, next song
  • Hey Siri, skip forward 30 seconds
  • Hey Siri, previous track

Siri almost supports a number of more complex music voice commands like asking for specific genres, moods, or activities.

Activities include:

  • Bedtime
  • Break Up
  • Cardio
  • Cooking
  • Dancing
  • Dinner Party
  • Meditating
  • Party Music
  • Studying
  • Waking Up

Moods include:

  • Affectionate
  • Blue
  • Chill
  • Lively
  • Safe for Kids
  • Soothing
  • Unwind
  • Upbeat
  • Warm
  • Whimsical

Genres include:

  • Alternative
  • Brazilian
  • Chicago Blues
  • Country Rock
  • Electric Blues
  • French Pop
  • Grunge
  • Indie
  • Dance
  • Pop
  • Rock
  • Smooth
  • Jazz

You can also go more specific either with artists or playlists. For example:

  • Hey Siri, play the latest song by Norah Jones
  • Hey Siri, play Ed Sheeran
  • Hey Siri, play this year's Grammy nominees
  • Hey Siri, play Adele's first album
  • Hey Siri, play a playlist from Pitchfork
  • Hey Siri, play the song by Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake

Once you're playing a track you can then ask Siri more questions about what's playing.

  • Hey Siri, what song is this?
  • Hey Siri, when was this released?
  • Hey Siri, what's Taylor Swift's newest album?
  • Hey Siri, who plays drums for Coldplay?

Controlling HomePod music via your iPhone

You can see what's playing on your HomePod at any time either by asking Siri to tell you or by accessing the HomePod via Control Center or the Apple Music app on your iPhone or iPad. To do so you have to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

Through Control Center

  1. Open Control Center
  2. Tap on the small wireless looking icon at the top of the music panel
  3. Scroll down the screen to see your HomePod's name. If you've already played music, it will have the last track you've played with the accompanying album art.
  4. Tap on the song title to reveal playback commands
  5. Tap again to open up control in the Apple Music app

Through the Apple Music app

  1. Open the Apple Music app
  2. Tap on the current song or previous song you were playing
  3. Tap on the AirPlay logo at the bottom centre of the screen
  4. Scroll down the screen to see your HomePod's name. If you've already played music, it will have the last track you've played with the accompanying album art.
  5. Tap on the song title to reveal playback commands
  6. Tap again to return to the Apple Music app and choose the song you want to play.

Reduce the bass on your HomePod or HomePod mini

If you find the HomePod or HomePod mini too bassy, you can apply a setting to reduce the low frequency output of the speakers.

  1. Open the Home app
  2. Tap and hold your HomePod in the Favourite Accessory section
  3. Toggle on Reduce Bass

Allow Explicit Content on HomePod

You can set whether you want to listen to music with explicit content or not on the HomePod and HomePod mini. Handy if you've got kids. To turn this feature on or off you need to go to the HomePod or HomePod mini's settings page in the Home app on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Tap on the Home icon in the top left corner
  3. Tap on Home Settings
  4. Tap a user 
  5. Toggle Allow Explicit Content

Use Listening History on HomePod and HomePod mini

Apple allows music played on the HomePod and HomePod mini to influence your "Listen Now" recommendations and appear on your profile. If you're worried that other members of your family might disrupt your recommendations (read kids listening to Disney or girl bands too much) you can turn this feature off. To do this follow the instructions below:

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Tap on the Home icon in the top left corner
  3. Tap on Home Settings
  4. Tap a user 
  5. Toggle Update Listening History

AirPlay from your iPhone to HomePod

If you want to play music directly from your device or from another service like Spotify or BBC radio you can AirPlay content straight from your iPhone or iPad to the HomePod or HomePod mini.

To do so simply go the app you want to play, find the AirPlay logo and then select your HomePod or HomePod mini from the list of available devices. 

HomePod messaging tips tricks

Beyond music controls the HomePod also has the ability to send messages, set reminders, create lists, and add to notes using your voice.

Enabling Personal Requests

To enable or disable personal requests - i.e, send messages, add to your reminders, or create notes when your iPhone is nearby - you have to go to the Home app.

  1. Open the Home app
  2. Tap and hold your HomePod or HomePod mini from the Favourite Accessories section
  3. Tap the settings cog in the bottom right corner 
  4. Tap on Personal Requests
  5. Toggle Personal Requests on for each HomePod you want them on for

Creating a message with HomePod and HomePod mini

To create a new message, you simply have to say "Hey Siri, text…" or "Hey Siri, WhatsApp…" Siri supports text messaging through a number of apps, including iMessage, SMS, WhatsApp and WeChat.

You can also tell Siri that a certain contact is your brother or partner, for example, and Siri will remember that for the future so you'll be able to say "Send a message to my husband" or "Send a message to my wife" and it will send a message to whoever you have told Siri is your husband or your wife. 

Adding to your Reminders or Lists

For Reminders and Lists, you can ask to add items or complete them by telling Siri. You simply say things like: "Hey Siri, mark walk the neighbour’s dog as complete" or "Hey Siri, add broccoli to the grocery list."

HomePod and HomePod mini support Apple's own Reminders app as well as others, like Evernote and Things 3.

Adding or creating Notes

You can either create or add notes via the HomePod by saying things like: "Hey Siri, create a note Books to Read" or "Hey Siri, add Columns of Fire to my Books to Read note".

HomePod and HomePod mini Intercom tips and tricks

HomePod and HomePod mini can be used as an intercom if you have multiple HomePod speakers in your home or multiple Apple devices. You can send different intercom messages to specific rooms and zones or send the same message, like "Hey Siri, intercom 'Time for dinner!'" to tell everyone to get to the table.

An intercom message will arrive on any HomePod speakers you tell it to, as well as iOS, iPadOS or Apple Watch or CarPlay devices

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Send an intercom message

To send an intercom message on your HomePod or HomePod mini, simply try any of the examples below or make up your own.

  • "Hey Siri, intercom 'Who ate the last biscuit?'"
  • "Hey Siri, announce 'I'm home!'"
  • "Hey Siri, ask everyone where are my glasses?"
  • "Hey Siri, let everyone know I found my glasses"
  • "Hey Siri, tell everyone I'm taking the dog for a walk"
  • "Hey Siri, intercom 'On my way home, want me to pick anything up?'"

To send a message to a HomePod in a specific room or zone, say something like "Hey Siri, tell the office the film is starting" or "Hey Siri, announce upstairs I'm going to the shops".

Replying to an intercom message

You can reply to an intercom message by simply saying "Hey Siri reply I'll be right there" or "Hey Siri, announce I am just finishing my homework". 

Turn on, off or limit intercom messages

By default, all members of your home will get intercom message delivered to their devices when they are at home, though they need to have location services on.

If you want to turn intercom notifications off on your device, or limit them, follow the steps below: 

  1. Open the Home app on your device
  2. Tap on the Home icon in the top left corner 
  3. Tap on Home Settings
  4. Tap on Intercom
  5. Choose your preference

Using HomePod or HomePod mini as a speakerphone

You can hand-off calls you've started or received on your HomePod or HomePod mini from your iPhone easily. When you're in a call or about to accept a call simply select HomePod or HomePod mini from the audio choices in Phone app in the same way you would a Bluetooth headset or speaker.

AppleApple Homepod Tips And Tricks image 4

HomePod and HomePod mini specific controls in Home App

Once set up you can access the HomePod and HomePod mini settings via the Home app on your Apple iPhone or iPad. To check the settings, find the HomePod in your Favourite Accessories and long press on the icon.

Setting an alarm on HomePod or HomePod mini

You can set multiple sound alarms on the HomePod and HomePod mini. To do so follow these instructions

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod or HomePod mini speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod or HomePod mini icon
  4. Tap New Alarm
  5. Set time, whether you want it to repeat, and give it a label
  6. You can also choose whether you want it to play a tone or play media

Setting a timer on HomePod or HomePod mini

Like alarms, you can set multiple timers on the HomePod and HomePod mini. Follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod or HomePod mini speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod or HomePod mini icon
  4. Tap New Timer
  5. Set timer and give it a label

Using HomePod to control HomeKit devices

You can use the HomePod in the same way you would Siri on your phone to control Homekit devices in your home either by issuing commands to do something like "Hey Siri, turn on the lights" to "Hey Siri, what's the temperature in the living room?" Any command or device that was previously set up with your phone will work in the same way on the HomePod.  

Fine-tuning Siri on the HomePod

You can fine-tune Siri to some extent in the Home app on your iPhone or iPad although the control you have is limited.

Turning off Hey Siri

There's isn't a physical button on the HomePod to turn off Siri like the Echo, Sonos One, and Google Home or Nest devices, but you can still turn off the function if you are worried about Siri listening in on your conversation. To turn Siri off on the HomePod and HomePod mini, you have to do it via the Home app on your iPhone.

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod icon
  4. Tap the settings icon in the bottom right corner
  5. Scroll down to Siri
  6. Toggle off Listen for "Hey Siri"
Pocket-lintApple Homepod Tips And Tricks image 6

Playing a sound and lighting up when using Siri

By default, the HomePod and HomePod mini lights up a small part of the touchscreen on the top of the speaker when you say "Hey Siri".

You can turn this off, as well as have an audible beep when you say the command so you know when to start speaking. To enable or disable these features:

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod icon
  4. Tap the settings icon in the bottom right
  5. Scroll down to Siri
  6. Toggle Light When Using Siri or Sound When Using Siri

Changing Siri's voice on the HomePod

Siri will default to the voice of your territory; however, you can change it if you fancy a change. Siri is available in both male and female voices in American, British, Australian, Indian, Irish and South African. To change Siri's voice, do the following:

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod icon
  4. Tap the settings cog in the bottom right corner
  5. Scroll down to Siri
  6. Tap to change Siri's Voice

Web Search Handoff to iPhone

Siri on HomePod works seamlessly with your other Apple devices as you might imagine. You can ask Siri on HomePod or HomePod mini to search the web and the results can be sent to your iPhone.

To do this simply say "Hey Siri, search the web for Yosemite travel guides" and while you've asked the HomePod or HomePod mini, the search will be performed on your iPhone. 

Writing by Stuart Miles and Britta O'Boyle.