Apple HomePod gets smoke alarm detection feature & it could be life saving

The Apple HomePod & HomePod Mini can now recognise smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

Apple HomePod updates
(Image credit: Apple)

In a new feature update from Apple, the Apple HomePod and Apple HomePod Mini can now detect and alert you to the sound of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. All you need to do to use this handy new feature is upgrade your software and use the Sound Recognition tool.

Apple’s line of HomePod devices are incredibly impressive, thanks to their powerful audio quality and ability to act as your smart home hub. Both the Apple HomePod Mini and the Apple HomePod (2nd generation) hold top spots in our best smart speaker guide, and with this new safety feature, they can work to make your home safe and secure.

Dubbed a ‘smart home essential’, the HomePod Mini, HomePod (2nd gen) and the discontinued HomePod (1st gen) – if you still have one – can now detect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms via Sound Recognition, a tool that was announced earlier this year alongside the launch of the HomePod (2nd gen).

As stated in Apple’s HomePod User Guide, when Sound Recognition detects an alarm going off, the HomePod will recognise it and immediately alert you by sending a notification to your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. On your iPhone or iPad, you can tap this notification to check if everything’s okay at home.

After you tap the notification, anyone at your home will be alerted that you’re checking in and you’ll also be able to speak to them. If you have a HomeKit camera set up in the same room as your HomePod, the live camera feed will appear while you’re checking in so you can also see what’s going on.

This upgrade is free and will be automatically added to your device as an over the air update. However, to use the alarm detection feature, you’ll need to set it up, but don’t worry, it’s relatively easy to do.

Apple HomePod 2023

(Image credit: Future)

To start using the detection feature, you’ll need to have installed HomePod software version 16.4 and the latest Home architecture upgrades. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to turn on the Sound Recognition tool in the Home app. To do this, open the Home app, go to Home Settings and tap Safety & Security. After that, you should be good to go.

So, what’s the early verdict on this new smoke and carbon monoxide alarm detection feature? Well, it’s definitely a smart home feature that can make your home safer and it could even be potentially life saving, especially if you’re away from home and a fire breaks out. The update is also free and you don’t need to install a smart smoke detector to use the feature which is always a bonus.

Where this new HomePod feature might falter is that it might pick up false alarms. If this is the case, it might become irritating if you’re constantly being sent notifications about potential alarms when there’s actually nothing going on. It’s also worth noting that the feature detects sounds and not smoke, so it will really depend on how well your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms work.

But, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and Apple does say in its HomePod User Guide that the Sound Recognition “shouldn’t be relied upon in circumstances where you may be harmed or injured, or in high risk or emergency situations.” Overall, this new alarm detection is definitely worth having and can give you peace of mind while you’re out and about.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!