Apple's HomeKit is one of the best smart home platforms around, but if like me you use HomePods or HomePods mini – both of which I'd recommend, because they're among the best smart speakers – you might have discovered one of the single most frustrating things about it. All too often, asking Siri to carry out a smart home command keeps you
before it works...
or often, doesn't.
It's slowly but surely driving me around the bend, so I am very relieved to see the resurrected HomeKit update in iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4 and Ventura 13.3. It enables you to move your HomePods to the new and improved HomeKit architecture, and that makes Siri much speedier.
What's new in the iOS 16.4 update?
The smart home boost is the biggest feature here, and you'll find it in the Home app: tap on the three-dot More menu and then select Home Settings. You should now see a banner asking if you want to upgrade your Home. You do. Apple promises not just better and faster execution but more reliable connections too. That should apply not just to HomeKit but to the Matter devices Apple now supports.
Other updates are less important but still worth having. There are a couple of new emoji – but still no chef's kiss – and new Web Push Notifications, a feature I know I'll never, ever use: it mirrors Safari's ability to notify you of website updates on your desktop. However the difference here is that it'll only apply to websites you've saved to your Home Screen, so it may be marginally more useful and a lot less noisy.
Photos can now detect duplicate photos and videos in shared iCloud libraries, and the Podcasts app has been given a few tweaks including better navigation and improved CarPlay navigation.
One of my other favourite updates here is for phone calls: the voice isolation previously only available in apps such as FaceTime is now available for cellular voice calls too. As before it's hidden away in an in-app menu, which makes it quite obscure; hopefully Apple will give it a more prominent place in the next iOS update.
The new versions are available in Settings > General > Software Update now.