Apple’s HomePod is about to get a whole lot better as the company addresses some of the common complaints about the smart speaker. Engadget reports that the Home Pod’s latest beta test points to a number of new features that users have been clamouring for.
Perhaps the most noteworthy addition would be the inclusion of native phone call support. Right now, users have to start calls on their iPhones and then switch audio inputs. With the new capability, the phone would only supply the cellular connection. Users would then be able to link their iPhones to the speaker to call mobile and landline phones.
The news comes with the iOS 12 update in public beta, which means that the final list of features that will ultimately make their way to the devices has yet to be finalised.
Another new feature that addresses user demand is the inclusion of multiple timers. This is already offered by similar devices from Google and Amazon. It would allow users to, for example, set one timer for the cake in the oven while running a different timer to let them know when lunch is finished cooking on the stove.
Also in the works are improvements to the device’s translation features and a version of Find My iPhone.
In addition, there will reportedly be a “fixed Wi-Fi” feature that connects the HomePod to a person’s iPhone network when there’s a mismatch, thus eliminating the need to reset the HomePod in order to solve the problem.
One big complaint that the new beta doesn’t appear to address, however, is the ability to recognize the voices of multiple users.
HomePod looking to gain ground on competition
When the HomePod was launched at the end of last year, its functionality left a lot to be desired. Apple is currently working on improvements to better position their device in the competitive smart speaker market. Amazon’s Echo smart speakers, for example, can already make calls and send texts to other devices that feature Alexa. In the US, users can also get an Echo accessory that allows them to call land lines and cell phones and make international and emergency calls. This accessory is expected to hit the UK and European markets in the months to come.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that these features will appear when Apple releases the official software update for the device this fall. However, if they are included, they could make the smart speaker more attractive to people who are looking for a device the does a lot more than simply playing music.