7 months ago


REVIEW make phone calls

REVIEW make phone calls useful only to one person. You can change the Apple ID associated with the HomePod, but this isn’t something you can do on the fly: you can’t ask Siri to “switch to Miriam’s account”. You can share to-do lists and calendars, though, but only one person can use the HomePod to check what the traffic is like to “work”. Everyone else will have to specify the location when asking, so there are workarounds for some things. Apple is late to the smart speaker game, so rivals already have a range of devices, including those with screens, such as Amazon’s Echo Spot. It’s possible Apple will broaden the range of HomePods in a similar way to offer both cheaper, smaller devices as well as a potential Echo Show equivalent where it could take advantage of its FaceTime video calling service. Later in 2018, you’ll be able to use a pair of HomePods to create stereo sound. Alternatively, you’ll be able to place them in multiple rooms around 52 TECH ADVISOR • MAY 2018

REVIEW the house and either play music in sync or tell Siri to play a track on a specific HomePod. For now, there is but one HomePod. What can Siri do on the HomePod? If you’ve used Siri a lot on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll already know what to expect from the HomePod as the assistant has – as far as we can tell – the same capabilities. Most people will use it to ask for music and control playback, but you can also ask for the news headlines (a new feature added to iOS recently, too), a weather forecast, unit conversion, general information (“How tall is the Shard?”) and more. In the UK, the HomePod will default to the BBC headlines, but when you first ask for the news, Siri will tell ask if you want to switch to Sky or LBC. With Apple Music, Siri can tell you the name of the song, album and who played the bass on that track. Some information is pulled from web sources including Wikipedia while other data comes from Apple Music itself. The HomePod works as a home hub, too. This means it can control your HomeKit devices and also allow you to control them remotely from your iPhone. If you don’t own any HomeKit devices you’re in the fortunate position of being able to buy only those which support it. Many early adopters of smart home gadgets will find their lights, switches, thermostats and sensors aren’t HomeKit compatible which means Siri won’t be able to control them. HomeKit-compatible devices can also be more expensive than those which don’t support it. MAY 2018 • TECH ADVISOR 53

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