Apple has revealed the planned updates to mobile operating system, with a host of features in iOS 13 set to impact the HomePod speaker.
Unveiled at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in early June, the iOS updates will affect everything from how multiple users are accommodated to how Siri sounds.
So, what’s set to improve the Apple smart speaker in 2019?
What is HomePod?
HomePod is Apple’s take on the smart speaker, combining a sound system with voice control capability and the insightfulness of the brand’s ever-accommodating assistant Siri.
When it was first unveiled in Australia in February last year, Apple touted the speaker as: “the ultimate music authority, bringing together Apple Music and Siri to learn your taste in music”.
“It’s also an intelligent home assistant, capable of handling everyday tasks – and controlling your smart home. HomePod takes the listening experience to a whole new level. And that’s just the beginning.”
The device allowed users to listen to music on demand, have texts read to them, create lists, check the weather, and control other smart products.
It also catered to “scenes”, enabling users to start multiple smart home devices and lights at once with a simple voice command.
“Just say ‘Hey Siri, turn on the lights’ or ‘Hey Siri, turn off the lights in the kitchen’,” Apple explained.
“You can even ask Siri to set scenes, like ‘Good Morning’, that put multiple accessories to work — all at once. A wide range of accessories works with Apple’s HomeKit platform. Just add an accessory to the Home app, then control it with your voice on HomePod.”
And now iOS 13 is set to deliver new features to the speaker and ultimately the smart home…
iOS 13 upgrades
Revealed at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) earlier this month, iOS is set to bring a range of new features to Home Pod.
These include: a more natural voice for Siri, the ability to search for songs via lyrics, and the capability of making phone calls.
So let’s delve a little deeper…
A more natural Siri
iOS 13 is set to deliver a new voice to Siri, making her sound less robotic and more natural. In case you missed it, Siri is Apple’s ever helpful voice assistant, and is synonymous with pretty much all Apple products.
In addition to sounding more natural, she’s also set to soon control more music services, navigation services and more, while accommodating users with a host of simple shortcuts.
In addition to housing a voice assistant who sounds ore natural, HomePod will also be able to differentiate between different users.
This has been a much-requested feature and will allow HomePod to better cater to each individual in a household, playing their specific music, offering reminders from their specific calendar and more.
Apple Insider notes Apple’s integration between hardware and software across its entire device portfolio is second-to-none. Now that’s set to be demonstrated further in HomePod, courtesy of handoff.
“Handoff is coming to HomePod, which is absolutely the best way to transfer audio to and from Apple’s smart home speaker,” Apple Insider explains.
“Say a user walks into the room with music playing on their phone. They simply need to just tap their phone near the top of HomePod and the audio will then be passed from the phone to HomePod.
“This works equally well with a phone call. When heading out, a user taking a phone call on HomePod can just tap their phone, transferring the call to their iPhone as they walk out the door.”
And speaking of phone calls…
When HomePod was first released it only allowed you to make phone calls first on your iPhone and then use the smart speaker as…well…a speaker.
In September last year, that all changed, with HomePod gaining the ability to make and receive phone calls.
At the time, 9to5mac explained: “To make a call, simply ask Siri to call someone from Contacts or say the number to call. Incoming calls are automatically directed from iPhone to HomePod — just ask Siri to answer the phone — and for missed calls, it’s as easy as asking, “Hey Siri, who just called?” Using the audio picker on iPhone, calls can be moved from HomePod to iPhone at any time.”
Apple Insider also explains the 2019 software update will allow for tighter integrations between HomeKit and iOS 13 Shortcuts.
“In the Home app, the HomePod now has a new interface that displays the currently playing content as well as controls. It is also capable of being included in scenes and automation rules,” they note.
“This could be as simple as having the HomePod turn on and play your workout music in your home gym when you start to exercise or more intricately you can have your morning playlist kickoff once you hit “off” on your alarm in the AM.
“The Shortcuts app is far more robust this time around so there is much more that can be done to integrate HomePod into your life.”
The latest version of iOS traditionally becomes available at the launch of the newest iPhones. At present iOS 13 is available for developers only in Beta mode, while the public Beta will be opened up in July and the complete pubic and fully tested version will be release in early to mid-September.
A price cut
Earlier this year HomePod also received a price cut when it was reduced from $499 to $469 in Australia.
About Lera Smart Home Solutions
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.
You can learn more about transforming your house into a smart home here, access our smart home calculators here or contact us directly for further advice.