When it comes to features and customization, the HomePod has lagged behind speakers such as the Sonos One and Echo and Google Home lineups over the past year.
But Apple has unveiled five new features at today's iPhone event that could make its smart speaker more of a contender.
Search by Lyrics. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that you'll soon be able to search for a song just based on lyrics. For example, if you just can't remember that Rick Astley song, you'll be able to ask Siri to play the song that goes "Never gonna give you up."
Timers. You can finally set more than one timer on your HomePod. Alexa has supported this functionality since last June.
Phone calls. You'll be able to use your speaker to make and receive calls to and from anyone in your contacts, another feature that Alexa and Google Assistant have supported for some time. When you miss a ring, Siri can also tell you who called.
Find My iPhone. If you're rummaging around for your phone, the HomePod will be able to ping it and tell you where it is.
Apps. The same Siri Shortcuts that Apple demoed during WWDC 2018 are now available for HomePod. This means HomePod users will get the equivalent of Alexa Routines and Google Routines. You'll be able to tie multiple actions to one command. For exmaple, "Hey Siri, good morning," could prompt Siri to turn on your lights, order a pizza, read the news, and predict the weather.
If you're concerned about privacy, Apple claims that Siri is only listening to you after you've said "Hey Siri," and that your information is sent to Apple's servers via an "encrypted and anonymous Siri identifier."