How to get the latest HomePod software update

Your HomePod is much more than a simple speaker – it’s an entire computer. And like any computer, it has an operating system that needs occasional updates. Here’s how to make sure your Apple smart speaker has the software version released on Tuesday.

This is a major update as the new version 16.3 enables some “hidden” sensors in the HomePod mini and makes other significant changes. Those who use HomePod as a hub for a smart home should absolutely not miss it.

A little background on the HomePod Software

Apple offers macOS, iOS, tvOS and more. You might think that the operating system for HomePod has a similar name, perhaps homepodOS. Nix. It’s called “HomePod Software.”

It’s apparently a variant of Apple TV’s tvOS that has been specially modified for this smart speaker. This makes sense – both are focused on multimedia playback, support Siri and don’t need to worry about cellular wireless connections.

And new HomePod software versions generally come out when Apple TV is updated. iPhone and iPad updates are usually introduced at the same time. And all version numbers are in lock steps.

What’s new in HomePod software 16.3

To be up to date, your Apple smart speaker must be on HomePod software version 16.3. This applies regardless of whether you own an original HomePod or HomePod mini. The new version debuted on January 24, the same day as tvOS 16.3.

Apple’s release notes indicate that this is a major update: “HomePod software version 16.3 includes support for new features for your HomePod. This update also includes bug fixes and stability improvements.” According to Apple, the new features are:

  • Temperature and humidity sensing measures your indoor climate with HomePod (2nd generation) and HomePod mini
  • Remastered ambient sounds are more immersive and can now be added to scenes, automations and alarms in the Home app
  • Find My on HomePod now lets you ask Siri for the location of friends and family if they’ve shared it with you
  • Recurring home automations can be configured using just your voice
  • Siri confirmation tone will now play to indicate when smart home requests are completed for accessories that may not visibly show a change or are located in a different room
  • Sound mode optimizes spoken content such as podcasts for even greater clarity on HomePod (2nd generation) and HomePod (1st generation)
  • Updated volume controls on HomePod (1st generation) give you more detailed adjustments at lower volumes

How to update your HomePod’s software

You can wait for the HomePod to automatically update itself, but Apple waits a surprisingly long time to start pushing out new versions to users. You can be sure your device has the latest version with just a few steps.

  1. open Home application on your iPhone
  2. Press the button for Home tab in the lower left corner of the screen.
  3. Press on menu button in the upper right corner of the screen and select Home settings from the resulting pop-up window.
  4. Scroll down to Software update and press it.
How to get to HomePod settings
Open Apple’s Home application and then go through steps 2 to 4.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Tap to check if your device has been updated automatically Updated recently and you get a description of the last version that was released.

But if you’re not caught up, you’ll see an update available instead. There will be one Update all button next to this. Tap it to see what the new version is and start the installation process.

See if your HomePod has the latest software update
If your HomePod has the latest software update, you’ll see the notification on the left. If a newer update is available, you can see the notification on the right.
Graphics: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Set HomePod to (not) update automatically

By default, your smart speaker is set to automatically install the latest HomePod software. If you don’t want to mess with updating this device, you’ll never have to think about it again.

Just be aware that automatic updates do not start immediately. Based on personal experience, it may take a few days after the software release before your device gets the update. If you’re someone who likes to make sure you’re running the latest software on all your devices, you can always go in and request an instant update by following the steps above. The best time to check is right after a tvOS or iOS update is released.

Or there is the exact opposite scenario. If you’re happy with your HomePod now and don’t want to take the chance of a bad software update ruining it, you can turn off automatic updates. It’s easy.

  1. open Home application on your iPhone
  2. Press the button for Home tab in the lower left corner of the screen.
  3. Press on menu button in the upper right corner of the screen, and then select Home settings from the resulting pop-up window.
  4. Scroll down to Software update and press it
  5. In it Automatic updates section of the screen, turn off the switch next to the HomePod.
Turn off automatic HomePod software updates
You can turn automatic HomePod software updates on or off with a simple toggle switch.

You may also consider doing this for other accessories updated from the Home application.

Just don’t forget you did this. By turning off automatic updates, you’ll never receive another one until you manually request it. You may want to lock yourself out of useful features that come in the future.

Note: This article was first published in February 2022 and is updated periodically with new information.


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