HomePod gains multi-user support, ambient noise generator, live radio this fall

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The HomePod is gaining a number of new features later this year via software updates, including support for recognizing up to six different voices and personalizing the experience, radio stations, and a collection of ambient sounds.

Updated following Tuesday's iPhone 11 event, Apple's webpage for the HomePod has a few additions about the smart speaker's features. Each are preceded by a small notification advising when they will be available to use, with all of the changes set to arrive before the end of 2019.

The earliest change is the addition of 100,000 radio stations, which can be listened to by asking Siri. Icons for iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn indicate the three services will be used to power the feature, which will arrive on September 30.

Small print for the page advises the live radio feature requires at least one user to be signed in with an Apple ID used for iTunes or Apple Music for it to function.

Live radio support is coming as part of iOS 13, but since the WWDC announcement, there has been a brief period when some HomePod users in Germany were able to listen to a small number of local stations in July.

Further down the page, the site advertises the ability to "relax with Ambient Sounds" in an update "coming later this fall." The text suggests users will be able to request audio of "ocean waves, forest birds, rainstorms, and more," which could provide both relaxation and create a background noise.

Towards the bottom, another update scheduled for this fall is "A personalized experience for each person in the family," with Siri on HomePod able to learn and recognize up to six different voices. By recognizing individuals, the HomePod can provide personalized mixes based on their listening history and personal preferences when asked to "play some music" without specifying genres, artists, or playlists.

The multi-user features extend into other areas, with Personal Requests giving each user access to their own messages, reminders, lists and calendars. It is also possible for each user to make and receive phone calls, though details on how that would function compared to the current system are not provided.

Multi-user support has been rumored about for a while, and has surfaced in some patent applications.

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