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Hands on with HomePod & HomePod mini's new features in software update 17

Apple's relaunched HomePod

The HomePod and HomePod mini didn't get as much love in Apple's recent OS updates as the rest of the lineup, but the recently-released 17.0 update still brought along some new features for us to test out.

HomePod software update 17 rolled out to users near the end of September, and Apple is just about to release version 17.1, bringing additional refinement.

We've been testing the new updates for the last several weeks and even though they aren't flashy features, they're solid quality of life improvements.

Improvements to Siri

As Apple has with all of its other platforms, users no longer need to preface summoning Siri with "hey." Users can now say "Siri, ____" to query Apple's digital assistant.

The same goes for the iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac. Apple TV doesn't have hands-free Siri support, and you must invoke the assistant by pressing the dedicated button on the Siri Remote.

Using Siri on HomePod
Using Siri on HomePod

Users can also now start an AirPlay session on HomePod by asking their iPhone. Instead of starting to play an app and then casting it manually, you can complete the whole process via your voice.

Phone calls on HomePod

If you took a phone call on HomePod, there was no easy way to mute the call. Apple has solved that with the 17.0 version of its software.

Tap to mute a call
Tap to mute a call

Tap the top of the HomePod during a call the mic will mute. The green status light in the center will shrink.

When you tap it again, it will increase to full size. When done, double-tap to end the call.

Apple added similar functionality to the AirPods Pro alongside iOS 17.

HomePod with Apple TV

Our favorite new feature is when using your HomePods with your Apple TV. Apple allows you to use a pair of HomePod minis or full-size HomePods as speakers with your set-top box.

Apple TV speakers
Use HomePod as Apple TV speakers

The larger speakers even support Dolby Atmos 3D audio. We've found that the dialogue can get muddied at times because of the amount of bass.

With HomePod software versions 17 and 17.1, you can now choose to boost speech for HomePod and HomePod mini.

Enhance Dialogue on Apple TV
Enhance Dialogue on Apple TV

This allows dialogue to be more clear and separates it from the other channels. We've tested it so far with our HomePod minis and it works quite well.

Update your HomePods

Apple will push updates to HomePod automatically, though you can manually install them by opening the HomePod in the Home app.

HomePod software update 17 is available now while the 17.1 release will be out soon.