At WWDC 2018, Apple did not announce any major updates for HomePod, its Siri-enabled smart speaker. However, the company might be working on new software for HomePod that could add features like phone calls and multiple timers. Apple employees are believed to be testing the pre-release software right now.
French website iGeneration claims to have details of next version of iOS for the HomePod. The report notes that Apple will address the long list of feature requests for Apple’s smart speaker with the upcoming iOS 12-based beta release. The most notable feature will be the addition of native phone call support. The feature will allow HomePod users to place and receive calls through the speaker as opposed to having to start the call on their iPhone, and switching audio inputs for HomePod.
The new iOS 12-based software is said to make iPhone act as just the provider of cellular connection while HomePod handles the call. Amazon Echo and Google Home already support hands-free calling feature, and it will serve as a great addition to HomePod, especially for those who don’t want to make calls through their iPhone speakers.
Since Apple started shipping HomePod to customers on February 9, one of the most requested features has been the ability to add multiple timers. With the beta release, Apple seems to be planning to add that feature finally to the smart speaker. Amazon and Google allow users of their smart speakers to set more than one timer. While calling support and ability to add more than one timer will be key features, the update will also bring other additions including a version of Find My iPhone, and Spanish language support. It also brings a ‘fix WiFi’ feature that makes the HomePod connect to your iPhone’s network when there is a mismatch that previously required a reset.
With HomePod, Apple has been relatively slow to release new software updates including AirPlay 2, which was promised to arrive in 2017 but was delivered only recently. It is not certain that these features will make the final build of iOS 12 that might arrive this fall. Apple HomePod, despite its superior audio performance, has failed to match the likes of Amazon Echo or Google Home in key areas like multi-user voice recognition and walled nature of Siri only further limits the features.