Apple managed to get a few updates for its HomePod speaker yesterday between iPhone-related announcements, including the addition of a whole new feature.
Later this fall, the HomePod can help you relax by playing "the soothing sounds of ocean waves, forest birds, rain showers and more", or whatever Apple calls Ambient Sounds. Apple has not provided other details, but we assume that you should just ask Siri to play ambient sounds to make your room feel like a seaside villa. The function was first spotted by 9to5Mac.
Apple is not the first to turn your smart speaker into a white noise player – Google Home has been playing ambient noise since 2017 and Alexa users can install one of many white noise abilities. You can also play an ambient sound playlist from your favorite streaming service, but you may need to request the correct playlist or send it from your phone to the speaker. Seems more relaxing to ask the built-in voice assistant to play ambient noise instead.
Apple has also shared updates on some HomePod features announced on WWDC. If you want to listen to radio stations on your HomePod without streaming them from your phone, Apple says you can ask Siri to play one of 100,000 radio stations from September 30. Later this fall, Apple says that you can seamlessly transfer a call or number from your iPhone to your HomePod. Also coming later this fall: the HomePod can recognize up to six different voices to adjust music requests and answer questions about messages, reminders and calendars from each person.
It is disappointing that we have to keep waiting for these features, but when iOS 13 is launched next week, features are also announced on WWDC that were pushed to iOS 13.1 or later. In a break with tradition, Apple has structured its software rollout this fall to come out in stages, presumably to give new features a bit more shine, so we hope that everything works as designed when we can finally try it all ourselves .