Your HomePod just gained a potentially life-saving feature
Your HomePod can now listen for trouble.
Owners of the HomePod and HomePod mini can now have their smart speaker alert them if it hears an alarm, like a smoke or carbon dioxide detector.
The new feature, which was announced alongside the HomePod 2 in January 2023, is now finally available after Apple enabled the feature. You'll find the option to enable alarm alerts inside the Home app and that's where the alerts will take you when you receive them as well.
Thankfully, this change doesn't require that anyone buys any new hardware and is available on all existing models.
Sound it out
The new addition was first reported by TechCrunch and is designed to warn people if the HomePod hears an alarm even when they aren't at home. That alarm could be a smoke or carbon dioxide sensor as mentioned, both of which you're likely to want to know about even if you aren't around.
What's more, anyone who has a HomeKit camera configured in the Home app will also be shown the feed when they receive an alert on their iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. We'd always suggest using a HomeKit Secure Video camera where possible as well, partly because of this feature but also because you get to use the Home app when viewing recorded clips later.
Apple says that all of the information gathered and used for this new sound detection feature is handled on-device, so it doesn't know what's going on inside your home.
Right now it appears that Apple only allows the HomePod to alert people when it hears an alarm, but it's possible that it could be configured to send alerts when other things are heard as well. That could include breaking glass, for example, or a dog barking. Apple hasn't suggested that any of those features are coming, but with WWDC23 just around the corner it's still possible.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.