While the HomePod didn’t get any stage time during Apple’s iPhone event, Apple revealed some new features and release dates for previously announced ones this week.
For one, HomePod users will soon be able to tune to more than 100,000 live radio stations just by asking Siri. Apple first announced this feature back at WWDC ’19, but has revealed in a HomePod product page update this week that it’s coming on Sept. 30.
Since HomePod updates are baked into iOS and iOS 13.1 is dropping on that day, it’s can be safely assumed that live radio support will be an iOS 13.1 feature. (It’s worth noting that live radio was actually made available to certain HomePod devices in Germany earlier this year.)
- HomePod will also gain multi-user support through voice recognition. Essentially, HomePod will be able to recognize different user voices and offer up different content based on voice profile. That includes personalized playlists and messages.
- Users will also be able to use the new Handoff feature to switch any media playback from an iPhone or an iPad to a HomePod. It’s as easy as bringing an iOS device close to HomePod and accepting a notification on the devices screen.
On HomePod’s product page, Apple says both of these features will launch “later this fall,” however. Presumably, they’ll be included in a later point release of iOS 13.
Apple also revealed a brand-new HomePod feature called “Ambient Sounds.” Apparently, the feature will allow HomePod users to easily play ambient and white noise sounds like rainstorms, ocean waves, birdsong and more.
While users can play ambient sounds on HomePod using an iPhone or by playing one of the ambient tracks on Apple Music, the new Ambient Sounds feature will be an integrated, Siri-compatible features. Like Handoff and multi-user support, Ambient Sounds is coming later this fall.
The HomePod feature release dates are just one example of a handful of very quiet Apple announcements this week. While Apple’s iPhone event yesterday covered a lot of devices and product categories, there were some notable absences from the keynote — including the release date for this year’s software updates.