HomePod gains significant Siri Shortcuts capabilities in iOS 13

Since the release of iOS 13, users have not been able to run Siri Shortcuts from their HomePods, leaving users with an error message when they tried to test out the new changes to Shortcuts. In this update, that's been resolved, allowing users to run and interact with multi-step Siri Shortcuts from their HomePod, hands-free.

One thing to note: this update is iOS 13.1.2 for iPhone, not the HomePod – HomePod still runs iOS 12.4 after this update and that is not a mistake. Apple hasn't updated the HomePod itself, but fixed the bug that was preventing HomePod from passing any shortcuts back to the phone for processing. Siri Shortcuts and other Personal Requests are triggered on HomePod, but all the work is handled by the phone – in this case, you won't actually be updating your HomePod for this to work.

What's does this mean for Shortcuts?

Now that proper support for running shortcuts is restored to HomePod, users can full take advantage of the new voice capabilities that iOS 13 brought to Siri Shortcuts:

  • App Store apps can provide full actions to Shortcuts with advanced functionality,
  • Scripting actions in Shortcuts have been given full voice support for interaction with actions like Ask For Input, Choose From List, and Choose From Menu
  • New actions like Control Home or Set Playback Destination allow shortcuts to control HomeKit devices & scenes, or automatically AirPlay music/podcasts to capable speakers like the HomePod
  • Automations (new in 13.1) that allow contextual triggers to notify you to run shortcuts, or run them in the background

All of this previously worked on iPhone, iPad, and via AirPods, but HomePod seemingly had a bug from preventing this (and the Apple Watch still can't run shortcuts either as of writing).

With this HomePod update, the voice potential of Siri Shortcuts is rounded out even further. With the 300 native actions and now ever-expanding potential of Siri Shortcuts from App Store apps, users can mix-and-match to create limitless types of shortcuts that can be run from anywhere in their home or whenever they're on the go.

In just a few minutes, a new user can create a voice-activated script that they can run from Siri, dictate anything into, verbally choose from lists or decide different ways the shortcut can operate in real-time, and execute the action in the background, all without lifting a finger and simply speaking into the air to their HomePod.

What does this mean for HomePod?

The power of the Apple's offerings has always been touted as coming from the ecosystem, and while that's largely been true in the past, it will be even more true going forward. The ability to build shortcuts quickly on your phone or tablet and immediately use them across your other Apple hardware is extremely empowering and puts all the benefit of the technology directly into the hands of the consumer.

In many ways, this is the biggest update to HomePod ever—since Apple hasn't released multi-user voice support yet—and it's hidden inside a bug fix update.

Really, this is what HomePod and Siri Shortcuts should have been like on iOS 13 launch day, but I'm glad it's at least here now and not slated later into the future for a different release.

Plus, once multi-user voice support comes to HomePod, anyone in a household can trigger Siri Shortcuts from their own devices by recognizing who spoke the trigger phrase and sending it to their device.

Example shortcuts for you to use

Now, knowing Siri Shortcuts work for HomePod isn't any good if you don't have good examples, so I've collected a few that are great for voice. These are from my new Shortcuts Library on my personal website and have shared them here for every iMore reader to use:

  • Weather Report: this gives a detailed view of the current weather and today's forecast in one go (feel free to edit it down as needed)
  • Read Later: any time you copy a link, you can ask Siri to save it to a read-it-later destination fo your choosing
  • Speak article: with an article on your clipboard, your HomePod can read the entire thing out loud for you
  • Remote control: while this is designed primarily for the widget, this can control your Apple TV from HomePod
  • Speak: for a good demo, copy some text on your phone and ask Siri to "Speak" and she'll say it out loud

We'll be sure to share more great shortcuts for HomePod in the future and cover the best ways to design your shortcuts to be used via voice, but for now, enjoy playing with these!

Matthew Cassinelli

Matthew Cassinelli is a writer, podcaster, video producer, and Shortcuts creator. After working on the Workflow app before it was acquired by Apple and turned into Shortcuts, Matthew now shares about how to use Shortcuts and how to get things done with Apple technology.

On his personal website MatthewCassinelli.com, Matthew has shared hundreds & hundreds of shortcuts that anyone can download, plus runs a membership program for more advanced Shortcuts users. He also publishes a weekly newsletter called “What’s New in Shortcuts.”