Apple didn’t talk about the HomePod on stage but it has quietly updated the product pages with some announcements.
Firstly, the radio stations feature is launching on HomePod on September 30. However, the previously-announced multi-user support and the music handoff features are not coming in September. Apple simply says ‘later this fall’. They also teased a new white noise mode that they hadn’t talked about before…
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The highly-anticipated multi-user mode will allow the HomePod to recognize up to six different voices in the home, and personalize its responses accordingly. You will be able to access each user’s individual music library and do user-specific tasks through Personal Requests like sending messages or setting todos.
Multi-user voice mode is a catch-up feature as both Google Home and Amazon Echo already have support for multiple user profiles in various ways.
The new music handoff feature makes it easier to switch between the device in your hand and the HomePod speakers. Just bring your phone close to the HomePod and a notification appears on the Lock screen asking if you want to play on HomePod. However, this feature will also not be shipping this month and is coming ‘later this fall’.
A new forthcoming feature is called Ambient Sounds. This will allow users to easily play white noise sounds on their HomePods, including ocean waves, birdsong, rainstorms, and more. Right now, users are forced to AirPlay from another iOS device to easily play relaxing background audio on HomePod. Ambient Sounds will make this a first-party feature, fully integrated with Siri.
Apple’s software release schedule is very janky this time around, with staggered releases for every platform. iOS 13 is coming first to iPhone on September 19. watchOS 6 launches the same day, but only for Series 3, Series 4 and Series 5 watches. iPadOS 13 is not coming until September 30 — which is also when iOS 13.1 will be shipping. macOS Catalina is launching sometime in October. There are also a lot of features, affecting iOS especially, announced for “later this fall”.