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Apple HomePod to get radio, multi-user function and more this year

The smart speaker is getting a series of much-needed updates starting this month

If there’s one thing we know about Apple, it’s that it loves making a big deal about new releases and updates. So it’s surprising that we didn’t hear anything about the HomePod’s coming updates at this week’s annual Apple event.

As soon as this month, Apple HomePods will be getting radio station playback. This means that users can finally listen to a number of global radio stations – around 1,000, in fact – simply by asking Siri. Of course, this has been available on most smart speakers for quite some time now, so Apple isn’t exactly ahead of the curve, but it’s still a welcome addition.

Another feature we should hopefully see before the year is out is the addition of multi-user playback. Google Home and Echo users will already be familiar with this function, which allows households to add different accounts to a single smart speaker. On the HomePod, this means Siri should be able to detect who is requesting content just by the sound of their voice, making recommendations more reliable.

In addition to this, HomePod owners should soon be able to take advantage of Handoff features. This means you’ll be able to play something on a HomePod speaker, then immediately continue listening from where you last left off on your iPhone or Macbook.

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Finally, Apple has announced the HomePod will be getting a raft of in-built ambient sounds to help you relax, study or drift off to sleep. It’s a pretty neat addition, which means you won’t have to rely on apps such as Apple Music or Spotify to get your ambient noise fix. Users will be able to choose from sounds like rainfall, ocean waves, birdsong and much more when the feature is finally introduced later in the year. Although not much use if your HomePod isn’t in your bedroom.

While literally all of these features have already been a part of other smart speakers on the market for quite some time now, it’s still nice to see Apple giving customers what they’ve been asking for.

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