Whether you are new to Apple’s HomePod or already have a few at home, there is always so much more to learn about your virtual assistant. As it turns out, Siri can do a lot more than just switch off the lights and tell you about the weather. But for you to make the most of her on your HomePod, you need to learn what she can and cannot do.
To begin with, when you are having a bad day for whatever reason, she can make it a whole lot better. Here’s how:
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Siri has quite a personality, and if you ask her the right questions, you could get to know her witty side. Here are some questions and phrases to get you started:
Siri will not take it lying down if she thinks you have her confused with Google Assistant.
“That’s like comparing apples and…not apples”
If you are bored to your wits end, Siri has a variety of responses to this question that will have you doubled over in fits of laughter.
One of her responses:
“The carpet needs vacuuming”
For the Star Wars fans in the house, her answer is, unfortunately, usually:
If you are feeling particularly loved up with your PA, here is what she might tell you:
“OK…how about a web search for ‘inappropriate behaviour’?
This has got to be one of the funniest. You will be glad you asked. No, really!
“Imagine that you have 0 cookies and you split them evenly among 0 friends. How many cookies does each person get? See, it doesn’t make sense. And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies. And you are sad that you have no friends.”
If you have a secret fantasy for settling down with your AI assistant, you might have to think again:
“My end-user licensing agreement does not cover marriage. My apologies”
Hold on before your heart starts melting at her response:
“I only dream of helping you. Well, that and fiery winged unicorns”
“I don’t know the word for it in your language. Sorry about that.”
“It’s complicated, but definitely not sugar, spice or puppy dog tails.”
“I’m afraid I can’t answer that.”
She is definitely busy right now, answering your questions. But surely, she must get off work at some point, right?
“I’m at work. My shift ends in 614,978 years.”
The first thing you need now is how to get the HomePod up and running. Only then can you enjoy all of the great features that the smart speaker has to offer. Getting everything connected is pretty simple. But there are things they won’t tell you on the manual, which you also need to be aware of.
First, we will go through the step-by-step procedure for setting up your HomePod with an iPhone or iPad. For this, you need to ensure that two-factor authentication and iCloud Keychain are activated on your devices. Here is what you need to do:
Hold your device close to the HomePod and a setup window will appear
Tap “Set up”
Select the HomeKit room that you will be using for the smart speaker
To use the settings on your device (Wi-Fi, iCloud account, etc) to configure the smart speaker, tap “Transfer Settings” and you will have everything working in a jiffy.
With multiple HomePods, you can also set up multi-room audio to hear music from every room in the house. The easiest way to do this is to ask Siri:
“Hey Siri, play [favourite album] everywhere.”
You can also set Siri to speak and listen for specific languages other than English on your HomePod. The languages include French, German, English UK and English Canadian. To change the language:
Launch Home app on your phone
Long press your HomePod icon
Tap “Language” and then select the language you want Siri to use
There could be times when you do not want to use voice commands, like when people in your household are asleep. At such times, you can use the touch screen on top of your HomePod to give gesture-based commands. Here are some of the gestures that could come in handy:
To play or pause music, tap once
To skip to the next track, double-tap
To skip back to the previous track, triple tap
To increase volume, use the + button (hold it for continual increment)
To reduce volume, use the – button (hold it to decrease continually)
To activate Siri, touch and hold the touch screen and then speak your command
“Personal Requests” is a feature that allows you to use HomePod to check messages, access notes and add reminders. For as long as your device is within the home network, the feature works. But this means that everyone in the range can access it and make personal requests on your account. To turn it on or off at any time:
Launch the Home app
Tap the “Add Home” button
Tap your “Profile Picture”
Tap “Personal Requests” and toggle it on or off
In a house that has multiple HomePods, leaving the default names will likely confuse at some point. Whether you want to avoid mixing them up or simply want to give them a personality, you can rename them to whatever you like. Here’s how:
Launch the Home app on your device
Long press your HomePod icon
Tap “Details” and then tap “HomePod”
Type in the name you want and then tap “Done”
There are times when you need Siri to stop listening, light up, switch accents and even switch voices. You can customize all these features from your Home app or by voice.
“Hey Siri, stop listening” and then confirm by saying “Yes.”
“Hey Siri, start listening.”
Siri lights up whenever she hears the wake word to indicate that she is listening. She also has an audio indicator that plays the same role.
Launch the Home app
Tap on the “Rooms” app and swipe to the room where your HomePod is
Long press on the HomePod icon and then tap “Details”
Toggle “Lights when using Siri” and “Sound when using Siri” on or off
On your iPhone, launch “Settings”
Tap “Siri&Search” and then “Siri Voice”
Tape “Male” or “Female” for the voice you want
Next, launch your Home app and tap on “Rooms” and swipe to the room you want
Long press your HomePod icon
Tap “Details” and then “Siri Voice” then tap “Male” or “Female”
If there are kids in your household, you might want to turn the “Allow Explicit Content” feature on and off from time to time. To do so:
Launch the Home app
Select HomePod speaker
Long press the HomePod icon and then tap “Details”
Scroll down and select “Music & Podcasts”
Toggle “Allow Explicit Content” on or off
Depending on the music you play on your HomePod, Apple determines what songs to recommend under its “For You” feature. In a household with multiple smart speaker users though, this could cause problems. You do not want to get recommendations of your teenager’s annoying music choice or your toddler’s Disney songs. If so, you could turn the feature off by following these steps:
Launch your Home app and select the HomePod
Long press on the HomePod icon
Tap “Details” and then scroll down to “Music & Podcasts”
Toggle “Use Listening History” on or off
You can set an alarm on the HomePod by following these instructions:
Go to the Home app and select the HomePod speaker
Long press the HomePod icon and then tap “Alarms”
Tap the + icon on the top left side
Set the time you want your alarm to go off, whether you want it to repeat or not and then give it a label
Siri can handle texting on your behalf, thanks to the HomePod. The service supports WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, iMessage, WeChat, SMS, LinkedIn and Text Plus. Simply say, “Hey Siri, text/WhatsApp [message].”
The HomePod has made a name for its audio quality. Take advantage of this by using it to enhance your Mac’s sound output. To make it happen:
Go to System Preferences on your Mac
Under the “Sound Preference” pane, click “Output” and then select the HomePod you want from the list
Did you know that if you have more than one HomePod you can actually use them to create a stereo pair? Well, now you do. Here is how to make it happen:
On your phone, launch the Home App
Long-press one of the HomePod icons and then tap “Details”
Tap “Create Stereo Pair”
Still on the phone, select the second HomePod icon which you want to use to create the pair
Confirm each is properly identified as left or right by tapping each one in the Audio Settings
From here on, the two will be grouped into one location and any music you play will transmit to both speakers. However, Siri will be on the left one. To change to the right one, long-press on its touchscreen top.
Another handy trick on your HomePod is the ability to support multiple timers. This has come with the launch of iOS 12 and does not take much. Here is how to do it:
Say “Hey Siri, set a [timer name e.g. oven] timer for [time]”
For the second timer, activate Siri again and say, “Hey Siri, set a [second timer name] timer for [time]
To get an update on the progress of any of the timers ask, “Hey Siri, how is my oven timer?”
Siri allows you to play and control music as well as ask for more information about songs and artists. You can ask her anything including when a particular song was released, what song is playing or what’s a particular musician’s latest album.
HomePod can play whatever kind of music you want to hear to suit your mood, the activity you are undertaking or from a given genre. Use the following commands:
“Hey Siri, play upbeat music”
“Hey Siri, play soothing music”
“Hey Siri, play bedtime music”
Take a look at some of the activities, moods and genres covered:
To play music from your iPhone or iPad directly to the HomePod, launch the app on which you want to play music and find the AirPlay logo. You can now select your HomePod from the list you get of available devices.
There is so much you can get Siri to do for you, but you need to use the right command. Here are a few common queries you can try:
“Hey Siri, remind me to…”
“Hey Siri, what’s in the news?”
“Hey Siri, how do you spell…”
“Hey Siri, what’s the weather like this weekend?”
“Hey Siri, what was the [team] score?”
If you have a habit of forgetting where you left your phone, Siri has got you covered. Simply say, “Hey Siri, find my iPhone.”
With that command, the HomePod will send your lost iPhone an alert that will make the phone generate a sound to help you track it down.
If you are learning a new language and want to keep practicing at home, ask Siri for help. She can translate your English word and phrases to any of the supported languages:
“Hey Siri, how do you say [word/phrase] in [language]?”
You might know this by now, Siri can can control any smart home device from the HomePod. But did you know you could make things even easier by lumping tasks together under “Scenes?” Scenes basically refer to routines. For example, at bedtime, you could switch off the downstairs lights, switch on the bedroom lights, turn on some music and lower the thermostat. Instead of calling out one command at a time, you can create a bedtime scene, incorporating all those tasks. Then all you have to say is:
“Hey Siri, it’s bedtime.”
The HomePod has an innovative design and one of its features is the ability to recalibrate the sound whenever you move it. This is made possible by an accelerometer which detects movement and automatically initiates the sound setup procedure.
If for any reason the sound coming from the speaker is unsatisfactory, pick your HomePod and lift it up in the air. After that, place it where you want it to be. In a matter of seconds, it should recalibrate the sound and improve quality. Unfortunately, this is one trick you might never have to use as it rarely happens.
As a point of caution, never pull the plug out from the back of your HomePod. Internal support documents indicate that the cable should never be removed. So find a way to get it through holes without detaching it as that could damage internal components or the cable itself.
Given the speed at which new features come out, there is literally no end to the things you could do with Siri and Apple HomePod. The trick is to keep learning and updating yourself as the features expand. Doing so will help you make the most of the handy assistant who is always willing to lend a hand.