Apple Releases — Then Pulls — HomePod 13.2 Software Update

Apple Homepod On Fire Credit: The Sun
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Although iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and tvOS 13 have been available since September, one of Apple’s key “iOS” devices has been conspicuously lagging behind. While every other modern Apple device has been enjoying the iOS 13 goodness, Apple’s poor little smart speaker has been left out of the fun, still saddled with running iOS 12.4.

Of course, Apple has more than had its hands full with iOS 13… and then 13.1… and then 13.2, so it’s probably little surprise that the HomePod wasn’t invited to that particular party. In fact, when Apple debuted iOS 13 back in early September, it quietly conceded that the announced HomePod features of multiple user support and Handoff wouldn’t be coming until “later this fall.”

Now that iOS 13.2 has been released for the iPhone and iPad, however, it looks like Apple was ready to bring out the corresponding HomePod update. Or at least the company thought it was.

A Botched Release?

The HomePod iOS 13.2 update arrived yesterday afternoon, supposedly delivering on all of the promised features, along with one other added bonus that nobody was expecting — many eager HomePod users found their smart speakers “bricked” after installing it.

The problem was first reported by MacRumors, which found multiple people on its forums and on Reddit reporting that the update had rendered their HomePods unusable. Since the HomePod doesn’t provide any kind of user interface beyond the light on the top and the sounds that come out of it, it was difficult to tell what was going on, although users said that they either saw a “white swirl” on the top of their HomePod, or simply an endless reboot loop. The HomePods otherwise stopped functioning, and weren’t able to be reset or reinstalled.

Some users encountered the problem immediately after installing the update, while others only had problems after the update, when they tried to remove and re-pair their HomePod because some of the new features weren’t working as expected. Some users also suggested that the problem may have been because they installed the HomePod iOS 13.2 update before updating their iPhone to iOS 13.2, although that’s by no means conclusive.

A few hours later, Apple pulled the HomePod iOS 13.2 update completely, making it unavailable for those who hadn’t already updated. For those who had, however, Apple also updated its support document on resetting the HomePod advising users running iOS 13.2 to not reset their smart speaker or remove it from the Home app, but rather contact Apple Support instead if they are having problems.

The problem appears to be affecting almost all HomePod users who have attempted to install the update. In fact, some users of multiple HomePods have reported that the update actually killed all of them simultaneously.

All 9 of my HomePods are dead. This might be the straw that makes me defect to Microsoft. And after ordering the new AirPods this morning I’m just in utter shock at this point that they allow this to happen.

MacRumors reader BarrettF77

While we have to assume that Apple tested the HomePod Software Update before it pushed it out publicly, the widespread nature of the problem leaves us wondering how much Apple’s own testing environment could possibly differ from the many HomePods that are out in the field.

What Was Supposed to Happen

It’s unclear exactly how Apple will be handling those users who ended up with bricked HomePods — some are already expressing the feeling that having to send it in to Apple and wait for repairs, or receive a “certified refurbished” unit isn’t an acceptable answer to Apple’s own blunder here.

Despite this, however, Apple will undoubtedly push out a revised version of its HomePod update again once it’s managed to fix whatever the problem is, although we can’t say that we’d blame you if you’re a bit reluctant to install it when it reappears.

That said, there’s going to be a lot in here that will tempt you to jump in rather than wait, since the HomePod update is supposed to finally bring support for detecting the voices of multiple family members, customizing actions accordingly. This will allow users to access their customized music and playlists, presumably as well as interacting with their own Mail, Messaging, Calendar, and Notes apps.

The update is also supposed to include the ability to handoff music, podcasts, or phone calls simply by bringing your iPhone near your HomePod, set sleep timers to drift off to music or ambient sounds, and even add music to HomeKit scenes.

At this point, of course, it’s unclear when Apple will fix whatever the problem is and re-release a version of iOS 13.2 for the HomePod that actually keeps users’ speakers working, but we’d bet on it being out soon.

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