Apple HomePod can now make calls, set timers, and more

Apple’s HomePod hasn’t been the most feature-packed smart speaker on the market, and it might not be selling as well as Apple hoped, but the company is hoping a software update to expand its functionality might make the device more appealing. The newly announced update to HomePod OS adds a number of new features to the Siri-powered speaker that may tempt you to buy one for your home.

On stage at its September 12 event, which included the introduction of a new series of Apple Watch and expanded line of iPhones, Apple also announced the upcoming release of HomePod OS 12. The update will sport the standard fixes and patches for any problems, but it also introduces some expanded capabilities for Apple’s smart speaker, including long-rumored support for voice calls.

Starting next week, HomePod will have the ability to turn into the ultimate speakerphone, using its crystal-clear sound quality to let you make and receive phone calls. You can ask Siri to make calls from your contacts or by saying a number. If you have an incoming call, just tell Siri to pick up and you’ll immediately be connected, with your iPhone passing the call on to your HomePod. Miss a call? No problem, just ask Siri who called and the voice assistant will let you know.

Seeing as your iPhone and HomePod will be communicating so much more with the latest version of the smart speaker’s OS, it’s only right that you can use your HomePod to find your iPhone when it goes missing. Just ask the speaker to help via the Find My iPhone feature and it will ping your lost devices so you can save them from the depths of the couch cushions.

Another often-requested feature has also made its way to the HomePod. The speaker now supports multiple timers, so you can balance various projects at once. Whether you’re working in the kitchen or in the office and need to watch the clock whole performing multiple tasks, HomePod can finally help you out.

Siri’s functionality, on the whole, is improving quite a bit with HomePod, thanks in large part to the introduction of Siri Shortcuts. The feature allows you to set up commands that will have the voice assistant perform multiple tasks at once. For instance, you could say, “Hey Siri, good morning,” and the A.I. would run through your morning routine, including ordering you a coffee from your favorite coffee shop, turning on the kitchen lights when you get out of bed, and sharing any appointments you have that day.

Lastly, Apple introduced a new feature that has to do with the HomePod’s primary purpose: Playing music. You can now ask Siri to find a song based on lyrics. Just give the voice assistant a snippet of a song and it will be able to queue up the full track for you.

HomePod OS 12, complete with all of the above features, will be available starting Monday, September 17 — the same day iOS 12 is made available for iPhones and iPads.

Mobile

Updating to Apple’s iOS 12 will make your iPhone a whole lot smarter

iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, is officially here. We took it for a spin to check out its new noteworthy features, and if it truly changes our smartphone habits for the better.
Mobile

Google Maps is available on Apple CarPlay with iOS 12

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The new OS comes along with tons of new capabilities from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts, here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Mobile

Not sure about updating to iOS 12? Here are five reasons why you should

If you’re on the fence about whether to install iOS 12 or not, allow us to explain why the update is worthwhile. Here are five of our favorite features from Apple’s mobile platform.
Smart Home

OK, Google, what can you do? Tips and tricks for the Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: When it happens and where to find the best deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Smart Home

Amazon creates a bigger toy box with its new Alexa Gadgets Toolkit

Amazon is giving manufacturers of interactive devices and smart home enthusiasts a new toy with a new Alexa Gadgets Toolkit that enables the construction of accessories that pair to Echo devices.
Smart Home

Restaurants may soon have chefs who know all about you before you walk in the door

At Seattle’s Addo, chef Eric Rivera gives pop-up-style restaurants a permanent home, and he leverages everything from Instagram to a ticketing service to bring in customers.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Smart Home

Alexa can now tell you the odds of the next big football game

Alexa can now answer questions about your favorite NFL teams and players, such as what team is favored to win the upcoming game or what player has racked up the most distance over the course of their career.
Smart Home

Who needs Stitch Fix? Maison Me uses A.I. to custom design clothing just for you

With backing from Google, a new Silicon Valley-based startup called Maison Me is offering A.I.-assisted, designed-to-order clothing. It's like a personal styling service on steroids.
Smart Home

Ring Alarm vs. Nest Secure: Which one is right for you?

Thanks to the advance of technology, it's become really easy nowadays to secure your home and protect it from thieves, intruders, and unwanted guests. Which one of these two top contenders is right for you?
Smart Home

Images of Google Home Hub leak ahead of company’s October hardware event

Google Assistant has the capability to work with displays. A set of leaked images suggest Google plans to take advantage of this feature with its new Home Hub, an Echo Show-type device.
Smart Home

What is Instacart? Here’s how to use the grocery delivery app

One of the most popular grocery delivery apps is Instacart, which you can use to receive your groceries in as little as an hour. A shopper near you will deliver it to your door, saving you a trip to the store. Here's how it works.
Smart Home

Google Assistant will now help Simplisafe keep homes secure

SimpliSafe has added Google Assistant voice commands to its home security system. Customers can now use Google Assistant commands to configure, arm, and check their home security system components.