As much as I love my HomePods and HomePods mini, one thing I don't love is the often long delay between me talking to Siri and Siri responding, if Siri responds at all. So I'm doing a happy dance around my smart home today because it looks like Apple has finally fixed the problem. According to Apple, the new update "addresses an issue where some HomePod speakers could respond slowly or fail to complete requests."
The fix has been released alongside iOS 17.1.1, with HomePod software of the same version number. This is the second HomePods software update in the last month or so, and from my point of view it's the most welcome one because in my home it's not so much a case of "could respond slowly" as "almost always responds slowly".
What's the problem with Siri on HomePods and HomePods mini?
The problem is a fundamental one: all too often, Apple's smart digital assistant is anything but "scary fast". Siri works fine on my other Apple kit, but when I'm invoking it from a HomePod or HomePod mini there's a painfully long pause before I get a response – and sometimes there's no response, or I get a dismissive "uh-huh". This has been happening for as long as I can remember and when I test rivals such as Amazon's Echos, the difference in response times is embarrassingly big.
It sounds like a first world problem, I know. But imagine if iPhones made you wait three to four seconds between tapping something on screen and anything actually happening. That's basically what's been happening with my HomePods. It would be a major black mark if it were a cheap third party speaker, and as we all know Apple's smart speakers are anything but cheap.
The update should roll out automatically, but if you want to push it faster you can go into the Home app, tap the More icon (the three dots in the corner) and then Home Settings. Scroll down to Software Update and you should then see "Checking for HomePod updates". My Home app has been doing that for the last hour, but looking at Apple forums other people are having a much more successful time of it. Early reports suggest that the problem is mostly but not completely fixed: there still appears to be some delay in Apple Music.