So, you've got a new HomePod. Great! But aside from saying "Hey Siri, play me some music" there is plenty more the smart speaker can do.

Here we've detailed a load of HomePod tips and tricks to get you started and show you what your new Apple smart speaker can do.

How to set up HomePod

The HomePod set up is similar to setting up a pair of AirPods or the Apple TV. You need to be on iOS 11.2.5 and have your iOS device near the speaker when you do.

  1. Turn on the HomePod and wait for the light to glow on the top
  2. Put your iPhone or iPad near the HomePod
  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 iOS 12

To update your HomePod to iOS 12 and benefit from the new multi-room and stereo pair features that come with Airplay 2, as well as making and receiving calls, mulitiple timers and finding out song lyrics, you have to go into the Home app on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Open the Home app
  2. Tap the Location icon in the upper left-hand corner
  3. Scroll down and under the Speakers tap Software Update
  4. Tap the Update (All) button to begin the update, and 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. 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 features 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, 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.

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 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.

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Via Control Center do the following:

  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 song title to reveal playback commands
  5. Tap again to open up control in the Apple Music app
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Via Apple Music app to the following:

  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 song title to reveal playback commands
  6. Tap again to return to the Apple Music app and choose the song you want to play.

Allow Explicit Content on HomePod

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

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod icon
  4. Tap Details
  5. Scroll down to Music & Podcasts
  6. Toggle Allow Explicit Content

Use Listening History on HomePod

Apple allows music played on the HomePod to influence your "For You" 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 following instructions:

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod icon
  4. Tap Details
  5. Scroll down to Music & Podcasts
  6. Toggle Use 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. To do so simply go the app you want to play, find the AirPlay logo and then select your HomePod 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 - ie send messages, add to your reminders, or create notes - you have to go to the Home app.

  1. Open the Home app
  2. Tap on the location arrow icon at the top left of the screen
  3. Tap on your face on under "People"
  4. Toggle Personal Requests at the bottom under "Siri on HomePod"

Creating a message with HomePod

To create a new message, you simply have to say "Hey Siri, text…" or "Hey Siri, WhatsApp…" As it stands Siri supports text messaging through iMessage, SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Skype, Linked In, and textPlus.

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 neighbor’s dog as complete" or "Hey Siri, add broccoli to the grocery list."

HomePod supports Apple's own Reminders app as well as Evernote, Things 3, Remember The Milk, Picniic, Streaks, and OmniFocus 2.

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"

Using HomePod as a speakerphone

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

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HomePod specific controls in Home App

Once set up you can access the HomePod 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

You can set multiple sound alarms on the HomePod. Do to so follow these instructions

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod icon
  4. Tap alarms
  5. Tap + icon top left of the screen
  6. Set time, whether you want it to repeat, 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, 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 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 Details
  5. Scroll down to Siri
  6. Toggle Listen for "Hey Siri"
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Playing a sound and Lighting up when using Siri

By default the HomePod 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 to disable these features:

  1. Go to the Home app
  2. Select HomePod speaker in Favourite Accessories
  3. Long press on HomePod icon
  4. Tap Details
  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. At the time of writing Siri is available in both male and female voices in American, British, and Australian. 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 Details
  5. Scroll down to Siri
  6. Tap to change Siri Voice to American, Australian, or British and Female or Male.

Now why not check out Google Assistant on iPhone: What can it do that Siri can't?