While most attention is undeniably focused on the imminently arriving new HomePod Mini, Apple is keen that we don't forget its flagship smart speaker, the original HomePod. To that end, it's just released software update 14.1, which brings with it a bunch of new features that were highlighted during the iPhone 12 event.
The big news is the arrival of the Intercom feature, which allows you to send messages from one HomePod to another, or even every HomePod in the house. "Hey Siri, tell everyone dinner is ready", for example, or "Hey Siri, intercom to the kitchen, can you grab me a beer please?".
It might all sound a bit lazy and we can't imagine that there are lots of people out there who already have lots of HomePods, but if you live in a palace and/or are planning to buy lots of HomePod Minis, we can see Intercom having its uses. In future you'll be able to send Intercom messages to and from other Apple devices, too, such as iPhones, iPads and even CarPlay. We can certainly see it being useful to be able to send a message home from the car.
Another handy new feature added with HomePod Update 14.1 multi-user support for Podcasts. Simply put, the HomePod will identify who's talking to it by their voice and will play or resume their specific podcasts.
HomePod users can also now set multiple, named timers, which is a real boon for cooking. Set one timer for the roast chicken and another for the boiled potatoes and never be confused again.
The HomePod's Maps support has been boosted, too, so you can ask about nearby traffic or directions to local places and have the results sent to your iPhone, ready for the walk/drive.
One thing that's missing from HomePod Update 14.1 is the so-called Home Theater feature, which allows the HomePod (or a pair of HomePods) to be paired with an Apple TV 4K for virtualised 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos sound. This will apparently come later in the year.