Your HomePod will start getting much more useful thanks to iOS 17

Apple HomePod 2 top
(Image credit: Future)

The HomePod often gets criticized for a lack of usability, despite its awesome sound and attractive design. We said as much in our revised HomePod review earlier this year. The list of apps that work natively with the smart speaker is limited, and all too often users have to rely on AirPlaying content from their phone rather than just asking Siri.

That could be about to change as iOS 17 will introduce the option for users to ask Siri to work as the middle man and stream content over AirPlay directly from any app installed on their iPhone or iPad.

First revealed at WWDC, the process works even if the app in question doesn’t have HomePod support — because it’s instead relying on the SiriKit API.

In practice, that means you could finally ask Siri to play Spotify (famously not supported on Apple’s speaker) through your HomePod rather than having to AirPlay it yourself instead.

“Once HomePod processes a request, a SiriKit intent is sent to the iPhone, where Siri starts your app and AirPlays content back to the speaker,” Apple explained

Unfortunately, the drawback is your iPhone or iPad will need to be present and on the same Wi-Fi network as your HomePod for this to work. So native HomePod apps like iHeartRadio, Pandora or Apple Music still have the edge in that regard.

But even so, this development opens up the HomePod in a way that’s never been possible before when it comes to the hands-free experience. Audiobooks, podcasts, radio stations and guided meditations are all examples of media you’ll soon be able to access on the speaker through Siri.

According to Apple: “Any app supporting SiriKit Media Intents today will be able to use this capability with no additional changes.”

The company added: “Everything your app can do on iOS today will work on HomePod. For example, app users can ask to play artists, albums, songs, music genres, and hits.”

Close up of the Homepod 2

(Image credit: Apple)

To avoid confusion when more than one person is registered to a Home app, Apple says it will use voice recognition to make sure the request is routed to the correct person’s device.

And, just as a cherry on top, Apple has also confirmed that AirPlay will be more reliable with iOS 17 and the software will intelligently learn your listening habits to suggest AirPlay when there’s a compatible speaker nearby and on the same network.

Of course, that’s just one of the new features coming with the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system. We expect it to touch down in the fall alongside the iPhone 15 series and we’ve detailed all the 11 best iOS 17 features coming to your iPhone right here.

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Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.