Apple’s release machine took a brief break before unveiling HomePod Software 16.3 and tvOS 16.3 (see “Apple Releases iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, and macOS 13.2 Ventura with Hardware Security Key Support,” 23 January 2023). Those remaining two updates are now available, and while they are usually afterthoughts—and tvOS 16.3 remains one—HomePod Software 16.3 is actually quite interesting.
HomePods and Apple TVs generally update on their own, and I see no reason to prevent that. If you’re excited about one of the new features in HomePod Software 16.3, you could give it a nudge to make sure you get it right away.
HomePod Software 16.3
Although it’s unsurprising that HomePod Software 16.3 would include support for the just-released second-generation HomePod (see “Second-Generation HomePod Supports Spatial Audio, Temperature/Humidity Monitoring, and Sound Recognition,” 18 January 2023), it also has improvements that owners of the first-generation HomePod or HomePod mini will also appreciate.
For instance, Apple updated the volume controls on the first-generation HomePod to give you more granular adjustments at lower volumes. Both full-size HomePods benefit from new audio tuning that optimizes spoken content like podcasts for greater clarity.
The remaining changes are focused on smart home interactions and Siri:
- You can now take advantage of temperature and humidity sensing in the HomePod mini and second-generation HomePod to trigger Home automations.
- Remastered ambient sounds are more immersive, and you can now add them to scenes, automations, and alarms in the Home app.
- Find My on HomePod now enables you to ask Siri for the location of friends and family who share their locations with you.
- You can set up recurring Home automations using just your voice. I haven’t had a chance to test this, but I recommend double-checking the results in the Home app.
- HomePods will now play a Siri confirmation tone to indicate when smart home requests are completed for accessories that may not visibly show a change or are located in a different room. Currently, Siri confirms such actions with a voice response.
There are several ways to kickstart HomePod updates. I found that tapping the ••• button in the upper right of the iOS Home app and then selecting Home Settings > Software Update caused all three of our HomePods to start downloading the update. I presume it would have installed on its own, but I gave it a push by pressing a HomePod tile in the Home app, selecting Accessory Details, scrolling down (or tapping the gear icon) to reveal the necessary controls, and then tapping Update.
Not a lot to see here, folks. With regard to tvOS 16.3, Apple merely says that it “includes general performance and stability improvements.” It also includes fixes for 10 security vulnerabilities. Let it install on its own.