Apple HomePod users just got a great free upgrade

Apple's big smart home upgrade is back, and it should give Siri a well-deserved kick up the backside

Apple HomeKit
(Image credit: Apple)

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

hanging on...

for ages...

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.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (