The Best Apple HomePod Features

homepod with siri
image credit: Apple Inc.

The HomePod, Apple's Siri-powered smart speaker, is multitalented. Want it to play music? Done. Need to control the Internet of Things devices in your home? HomePod can do it. Looking to get news, traffic information, or a weather forecast, just ask Siri. It even works as a speakerphone for calls, sends text messages, and takes notes for you. With so many great features, it's hard to choose the very best, but we did it. Here are our 9 favorite features of the HomePod.

Name Your Tune with Siri

Apple HomePod
image credit: Apple Inc.

What We Like

  • Playing music using HomePod and Siri is effortless, smart, and sounds great.

What We Don't Like

  • There's no way to control non-Apple music with Siri (other than play/pause and adjusting the volume). You should be able to control Spotify and other apps by voice just like Apple Music.

The music experience on the HomePod is built around Siri and Apple's music offerings. That makes listening to music on the HomePod a snap. Just tell Siri what you want—a song, an album, an artist, music to fit a mood, etc.—and you'll hear it in crystal clear sound right away.

Spotify, Pandora, and Other Music Apps Work, Too

homepod in black
image credit: James D. Morgan/Getty News Images

What We Like

  • Support for non-Apple music services.

What We Don't Like

  • Non-native support. Future versions of the HomePod software should give Spotify, Pandora, etc. voice commands, just like Apple Music.

The HomePod only offers native support—that is, Siri-controlled playback—for music sources from Apple, but users of Spotify, Pandora, and other music services aren't shut out. They can play from their iOS devices or Macs to the HomePod.​

AirPlay is built into the operating system of all Apple devices and using it is a snap: just a few taps and Spotify will be blasting out of your HomePod.

Siri Is a Good Listener

can you get siri for android?
image credit: Hero Images/Getty Images

What We Like

  • A smart, non-shouty solution to controlling your device while music plays.

What We Don't Like

  • ​Siri can only respond to one person right now (the person who set up the HomePod). Adding multi-user support is crucial.

When other smart speakers get loud, they also get hard to control. If the Amazon Echo or Google Home is playing music very loud, you need to shout at the device in order for it to hear you. Not the HomePod. It's designed so that Siri can hear you almost no matter the volume and respond to your "Hey, Siri" commands.

Fill The House With Music Using Multiroom Audio

kids dance party
image credit: Flashpop/DigitalVision/Getty Images

What We Like

  • Filling your whole house with music is simple and fun.

What We Don't Like

  • This feature isn't available yet. Multiroom audio requires AirPlay 2, which debuts later in 2018.

What's better than one HomePod? A house full of them. With multiple HomePods, each device can play its own music or they can all be set to play the same thing so you never miss a note.

Control Your Smart Home From HomePod

apple homekit
image credit: Apple Inc.

What We Like

  • Home automation is one of the best uses of smart speakers. Turning lights on and off should always be this simple. 

What We Don't Like

  • ​You can only control HomeKit-compatible devices. While there are a lot of those, being able to control devices using other smart-home standards would be best.

Homes are getting smarter thanks to thermostats, light bulbs, cameras, and other home appliances that can be controlled by apps over the internet. The HomePod can be a hub for smart-home devices.

Communicate Via Text and Phone With HomePod

text messaging
image credit: Tim Robberts/Taxi/Getty Images

What We Like

  • Support for non-Apple texting apps. Besides Apple's Messages app, you can also use the HomePod to text with WhatsApp.

What We Don't Like

  • There are no privacy controls to prevent others from asking the HomePod to read your texts (assuming your iPhone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the HomePod). It's not a likely scenario, but Apple needs to address that sort of privacy concern.

Music may be central to the HomePod, but it's not all it can do. Thanks to Apple's tight integration of its devices, the HomePod works with your iPhone (or other devices) to send text messages and function as a speakerphone. Sending a text is as simple as telling Siri to text someone. Once a phone call ​has been started you can hand it off to HomePod and talk hands-free

HomePod Keeps Track Using Timers

timer
image credit: John Lund/Blend Images/Getty Images

What We Like

  • Asking Siri to set a timer is one of the simplest ways to track the time you're spending on a task.

What We Don't Like

  • The HomePod only supports one timer at a time. That's fine for basic tasks, but running multiple timers is key for cooking and other, more-complex tasks.

You can avoid losing track of time with the HomePod around. Just ask Siri to set a timer and let the HomePod worry about counting the time you're spending on a task—cooking, playing video games, exercising, etc. Ask for a time-check whenever you want and Siri will let you know when time's up.

Support for Notes, Reminders, and Lists

Business meeting with iPhone and iPad
Keeping organized with your iPhone or iPad. Pexels

What We Like

  • Support for apps besides those offered by Apple (Apple's Notes app is solid, but Reminders is pretty basic). The HomePod supports apps like Evernote and Things.

What We Don't Like

  • The HomePod needs to support even more third-party apps. Presumably that's coming as developers add HomePod support, but Apple should help accelerate those efforts. Only supporting a few apps right now is a big limitation (this applies to texting apps, too, as they're the only other category of supported third-party apps).

The HomePod has some useful productivity features. Use it to create notes, reminders, and lists. You can also mark items on those lists as completed. Adding items to your grocery list or recording a stray thought no longer requires paper and a pen.

Automatic Adjustments for Optimal Audio

homepod
image credit: Apple Inc.

What We Like

  • It's so simple. Other speakers offer spatial-awareness calibration features, such as Sonos' Trueplay, but they require at least some work from the user. Not here. HomePod does it all, automatically. 

What We Don't Like

  • Nothing. This feature doesn't require you to do anything, and it makes your HomePod sound great.

The HomePod is so smart that it can detect the size, shape, and contents of the room it's placed in. With that information, it customizes audio playback to create an ideal music-listening experience.