How to stop Siri listening on the HomePod

How to, Tech

Each time my HomePod says “huh, what did you say?” when I haven’t said the magic word I keep meaning to write this post so I’m finally doing it. You can disable “hey Siri” on the iPad and touch the top instead, here’s how you do it.

Fire up the Home app and tap on your HomePod.

Once you have tapped on it, tap on settings.

Make sure you copy settings above.

Using a HomePod as a soundbar replacement

How to, Tech

Our Sony soundbar has been playing up for a while but I decided we needed to replace it when the speakers started to stop working well at low levels. The infrared had already broken so it was time.

I looked around and without spending £600 Plus I just couldn’t find something that I liked. It hit me whilst looking, why don’t I just use the HomePod from our kitchen. One prerequisite here is the Apple TV mind you. We have been using one for years so was ok in that department.

Setting up

So the way this works is via AirPlay. Put your HomePod to where it’s going to live under your TV then head into settings on the Apple TV. You need to look for audio settings and select the source to be the name of your HomePod. Also deselect the HDMI, which seems to be the default.

What’s it sound like with one HomePod?

I put the HomePod near the centre of the TV. On listening to Star Wars, New Hope I was immediately impressed with how clear the voices and effect music was. I heard sounds in scenes I’d never heard before and I’d been watching Star Wars since the 80’s. Where it fell down for me was in scenes with a lot of music. Star Wars has a great score and the orchestra plus voice and effects was a little too much. I found the score to be put to the back and drowned out a little.

What about two HomePods?

This is were it was a game changer for me. I grabbed my HomePod from the office and put them in a left and right configuration. The first thing you need to do before using is create a stereo pair. You can do this by using the Home app and tapping create stereo pair. Once you’ve created a stereo pair that’s it.

I fired up the same scene from New Hope (escape from the Death Star in the Falcon) and wow, what a difference. A few things stood out. First the speech was clear but I could now hear the music clearly too. Second the width of the stereo effect was unlike anything I got out of my soundbar. Wide and even background sounds were audible. In this scene I could still hear the tie fighters flying around the Falcon whilst the scene was set inside on Han or Luke. Lastly the bass, two homepods make for a massive increase in bass even over the subwoofer in the soundbar. I moved forward to the final battle against the Death Star and I realised I could now hear the engines of the X-Wings whilst inside with the pilots, it’s going to be great rewatching the entire series before Episode 9 comes out.

Would you buy a HomePod over a traditional soundbar?

This is an interesting one. The issue with using a HomePod is that you can only stream to it if it supports AirPlay. So as an example I can’t listen to my PlayStation 4 on the HomePod. This means that the solution isn’t entirely fulfilling my needs at home unfortunately but I’m definitely using it to enjoy movies for now until I see the need to replace to cover my gaming. I’ve started to use my PlayStation with headphones anyway so I’m going to try to stick with this setup and see how it goes. If you have one or two already then I’d say set them up with your Apple TV ASAP. If you are in the market but don’t have one I’d say stick to the traditional route and get a soundbar. This gives you the most flexibility.

Please Apple can you make a soundbar with the HomePod tech in it pretty please.

Update

After using it again now the power has been off all night I’ve realised something really basic that’s not happening. Whenever you restart the Apple TV forgets the output and defaults to HDMI. This is going to get annoying real fast, I’ll raise a radar.

Why I bought a second HomePod

Tech

I’ve been loving having a quality audio experience in my home office, as I wrote about before but the more I used it the more I loved having it in the office.

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The issue I had is that I took it from the kitchen where the whole family could enjoy it. We had gotten used to calling on Siri to play our favourites and having already taken the Sonos out of action didn’t have a replacement.

I had a Sonos Play:1 and the thought of having to use it again after getting used to using Siri filled me with dread. The Sonos app is slow and being only able to call up songs via it rather than voice was annoying. After getting used to the HomePod and using either Siri or AirPlay without having to log on anywhere was a breeze.

I decided that we should get a second, but justifying over £300 for a second one needed me to be a little creative.

I decided to pick up a second one used so I traded in my Sonos Play:1, a couple of old iPhones and a couple of PS4 games I’m not playing. End result a shiny new (and still wrapped in plastic) HomePod for £5 after my trade with CEX.

At the moment I have them as a stereo pair to test (it sounds amazing) and then I’ll be moving the space grey one up to it’s place in the kitchen and leave the white one in the office.

Pairing two HomePods

Tech

With iOS 11.4 Apple have enabled AirPlay 2 and the ability to pair two HomePods to create multi-room or stereo pairing two of them together. I’m currently strategising on how I can pick up another one (selling Sonos and some old gadgets to fund it) but here is Jason Snells take on the update.

Should you buy Apple Care + for the HomePod?

Tech

With any Apple purchase I have to have that internal dialogue of “Do I really need Apple Care +?”. On something like an iPad Pro or iPhone X the answer is an obvious YES but on a device that lives at home what should you do?

I chose YES and I feel that if like me you fit this criteria then it’ll be a yes also

  • Do you intend to move it around your home?, I’ll be moving it between my office and kitchen
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you have pets?

If you answer yes to any of these then I feel that Apple Care + is a must buy. Especially when Apple are charging over £250 for a replacement.