New HomePod Software 15 Beta May Fix Alarming Overheating Issues, Adds Lossless Audio Support

Using HomePod on Display at the Apple Store Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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Last week we saw reports of numerous early adopters of the HomePod OS 15 beta experiencing problems with overheating and failure of their original HomePod speakers — a problem that may have even extended to those running the released HomePod 14.6 software as well.

However, it appears that Apple has quietly pushed out a third release of the HomePod Software 15 beta that many are hoping will address at least some of these issues.

While Apple’s release notes are mum on the subject of overheating problems and failures, the fact that so many problems were reported with the full-sized HomePod in the second beta raises hopes that Apple may have addressed whatever bug was causing this problem in this latest update.

Of course, it should go without saying that installing beta software always carries risks — and this is doubly true with the HomePod betas, which are only available by special invitation to a hand-picked group of testers.

While it’s not entirely clear if any of those raising complaints about overheating problems are actually part of the AppleSeed program, the fact that the closed beta profile has leaked out on the public internet suggests that there are a good number of users who have decided to jump into the beta without the proper authorization — and the necessary support and communication from Apple that comes along with it.

After all, if you’re actually invited to the AppleSeed program, presumably you also have access to internal release notes and discussion threads — things that won’t be available for those who randomly find the beta profile lying around on some third-party site.

Hence, it’s likely that those experiencing problems with their HomePods weren’t privy to the same warnings that Apple may have issued to AppleSeed testers.

While leaked betas have been an issue since the early days of iOS, there was a time when Apple required developers to register the device IDs for those devices on which they planned to install the beta. Devices that weren’t registered would be unable to run beta versions, as they would phone home to Apple’s servers and refuse to activate if they were running on an unauthorized device. This is similar to how Activation Lock works.

Around the time that Apple began releasing public betas of iOS, it also stopped requiring device registration to run these betas, and as far as we know, it’s never adopted this approach for the HomePod at all. This means that anybody who happens to find the beta profile for the HomePod Software online can install it and potentially hurt themselves by updating their speakers to a beta they shouldn’t be using without the proper background information, guidance, and support from Apple.

Still, since there’s no going back once you’ve updated your HomePod, those who already jumped into the HomePod Software 15 don’t have much choice but to forge ahead at this point and hope that HomePod Software 15 beta 3 will cool down their speakers.

Problems in HomePod 14.6

Even though most of the problems have been encountered by users running the HomePod 15 beta, several users on HomePod Software 14.6 also complained about overheating problems. However, in most cases, these problems seem to be related to using the original HomePod with an Apple TV in a Dolby Atmos Home Theatre Audio configuration.

This suggests that the problem could be at least partially related to tvOS, rather than the software running on the HomePod itself, and my experience adds some weight to this.

My HomePods ran noticeably hotter on tvOS 14.6 and the first beta of tvOS 15, and I also experienced audio cutting out and at least two incidents where one HomePod had to be rebooted to continue operating. My HomePods are running the publicly released 14.6 software.

All these problems have vanished since updating to the second tvOS 15 developer beta, however, and after more than two weeks of running tvOS 15 beta 2, I’ve had none of the problems that occurred every few days throughout the prior month — even on tvOS 14.6.

Since this is also the first public beta of tvOS 15, it’s available to anybody who wants to jump in, so it may be worth giving it a shot if you’re using HomePods in Home Theatre Audio Mode and also experiencing problems with overheating or other odd behaviour.

Lossless Audio on HomePod

Several sources have also reported that the latest HomePod Software beta supports lossless audio, although it remains unclear whether this feature is fully baked yet.

Specifically, users running HomePod Software 15 beta 3 have seen the reappearance of a “Lossless Audio” switch in the iOS 15 Home app’s HomePod settings. However, this toggle isn’t appearing for everyone, and it’s not certain if it actually enables lossless audio as nobody has reported doing any actual blind comparison tests.

Nonetheless, Apple has promised that the HomePod will gain Lossless Audio support “in a future software update,” which presumably means later this year when the iOS 15 family of updates are released across Apple’s product lineup.

So, it makes sense that Apple is already working on it in the current betas, however, since the HomePod Software 15 beta won’t likely be available beyond selected AppleSeed testers — and for obvious reasons we strongly recommend against anybody else installing it — we’re just going to have to wait until the fall to see how this actually pans out.

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