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Over the past few days we’ve heard several reports of HomePods overheating while running unauthorized betas of Apple’s private HomePod “audioOS” 15, but now it looks like the problem may not be limited to beta software, making it much more serious than we first thought.
According to MacRumors, several threads on Reddit show original HomePod models mysteriously dying at an unprecedented rate, only a few months after the products were discontinued. This includes not only the aforementioned units running beta versions of the HomePod operating system, but also ones with the publicly released 14.6 software.
While it’s not conclusive yet, one common denominator is that most of the affected non-beta HomePod speakers are running in stereo pairs and acting as Home Theatre Audio outputs for an Apple TV 4K, also using the tvOS 14.6 update.
In one of the most extreme cases, Reddit user fowagel965 reported that seven of his 19 HomePods (yes, you read that right), suddenly stopped working — and in this case there doesn’t appear to be a direct connection to the beta software.
I have a total of 19 HomePods at home. 6 of them are on Beta and the others on 14.6. As of today, 7 are no longer working. 4 on the beta and 3 on 14.6. I use the HomePods normally and listen to music from time to time but not very loud, on average about 20% volume. All the ones on the beta are connected as default speaker on the Apple TV. Either there is a massive problem with the OS or something in the hardware is built wrong.Reddit user fowagel965
It’s worth noting that I’ve personally noticed my HomePods running a bit hotter since I paired them up with my Apple TV 4K a couple of months ago. However, other than a need to reboot one of them a couple of times when it stopped responding, they’re still both working fine. The problem also doesn’t seem to have recurred since updating to the latest tvOS 15 beta.
By contrast, however, I haven’t had any problems at all with the pair of stereo HomePods in my bedroom, suggesting that it may indeed be something related to the use of the HomePod with the Apple TV. It could also be tied to playing Dolby Atmos content, as the HomePod’s aging A8 chip naturally has to work a lot harder to handle this.
There are now several threads and dozens of comments in r/HomePod from users who are experiencing similar problems, ranging from their HomePods running unusually hot to suddenly failing outright.
Unfortunately, many HomePod owners are well beyond their one-year warranty period, and according to MacRumors, Apple hasn’t been particularly helpful in these cases. If the issue turns out to be the result of a known bug in the HomePod software or tvOS, it’s possible that Apple might offer a special service program, but otherwise those affected by this problem may be out of luck. It’s a good incentive to buy AppleCare+ for your HomePod if you’ve recently purchased one.
Of course, warranty or not, Apple also isn’t going to be providing much help for those who have been brave (or foolish) enough to try running the closed HomePod 15 software beta without being part of the AppleSeed program. One Reddit user said that they were advised by a senior Apple technician to unplug any HomePods running the beta software and leave them until the next update arrives “to avoid damage to the logic board,” and that Apple won’t be held liable to fix a HomePod that has beta software installed on it without authorization.
While it goes without saying that HomePod owners should avoid installing unauthorized beta software, if you’re finding that one or more of your HomePods are overheating or acting up, you may want to stop using them until either a new Home software update comes out or more information on a fix becomes available.
In my case, the heat being generated doesn’t seem nearly as bad with the most recent tvOS 15 developer beta (which is also the current public beta). This suggests that Apple may already be working to address the problem.
Either way, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your HomePods and make sure that they’re not heating up more than they should be. Removing them as Apple TV default speakers, or even from a stereo pair, might help to avoid the issue, but it’s hard to say without knowing for sure what’s causing it.