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.

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