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HomePod stereo pairs supported in macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta

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Apple appears to be working on system-level support for HomePod stereo pairs with its upcoming macOS 11.3 update, delivering a long-requested feature that has been available on iOS and tvOS for years.

Current macOS releases restrict playback on stereo-paired HomePods to certain apps like Apple Music, with system audio relegated to individual HomePods. Further complicating matters, apps that do support stereo pairs force users to manually select speaker groups from the AirPlay menu.

As noted by 9to5Mac, HomePod pairs are listed as selectable options in macOS 11.3 beta's system sound output pane. Clicking on a paired set results in stereo output, identical to HomePod handling on iOS.

According to the report, the feature is not working consistently, suggesting Apple is hammering out bugs on the way to public release. It is unclear if the feature is compatible with HomePod mini.

The news should come as a relief to HomePod owners who have pined for stereo sound on Mac since the smart speakers launched in 2018.

Stereo pairing is a major HomePod and HomePod mini feature that automates setup and playback processes. After setting up a first HomePod, users are able to add a second unit — of the same type — to create a stereo pair that leverages onboard audio technology to significantly widen perceived soundstage.

It remains unclear whether Apple will complete development of HomePod stereo pairs in time for macOS 11.3's release, but it is apparent that the company is finally working to deliver what some consider to be a glaring omission in Mac's software feature set.