First-gen HomePod getting major home cinema upgrades soon

Two white homepods sitting on a television stand
Two white homepods sitting on a television stand (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple announced its new HomePod mini this week.
  • But it's also making some big changes to the first-generation of its smart speaker.
  • Support is coming for Dolby Atmos, and you can now permanently pair your HomePod to your Apple TV 4K.

Whilst HomePod mini was the talk of the town in Cupertino this week, Apple has also made some big changes to its first-generation smart speaker, vastly improving its home cinema capabilities.

As noted by Pocket-Lint:

Dolby Atmos support is coming to the original Apple HomePod in the coming weeks according to Apple via a software update.The new feature confirmed at the same time the company announced a newer smaller HomePod mini, will take advantage of the bigger speaker's ability to create a virtual soundstage.

The new 'Home theater with Apple TV 4K' feature means you'll be able to connect your HomePod to your 4K Apple TV and enjoy Dolby Atmos content, up until now, users had only been given the option of virtual 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound.

Whilst this will work with just one HomePod, two HomePods paired together will make for a more immersive experience.

As reported by 9to5Mac, this change is supplemented by a new Default Audio Output option for Apple TV which will allow users to pair their HomePod to their Apple TV permanently, rather than reconnecting every time they want to use it.

Apple's first-generation HomePod will also benefit from Apple's new 'Intercom' technology, and a new feature will soon let users set Apple Music songs as alarms on HomePod.

Apple's HomePod mini will not support these big home cinema changes, as the smaller speaker simply isn't powerful enough. Whilst you'll be able to pair two HomePod mini devices like you can the original HomePod, you can't "cross-pair" a HomePod mini and an original HomePod, likely because of the unbalanced sound experience this would create.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9