The Apple HomePod just got a potentially life-saving feature

Apple Homepod 2
(Image credit: Apple)

Making good on its promise, Apple is giving its HomePod line of devices the ability to detect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms via its Sound Recognition tool. Yes, that includes the discontinued first-gen HomePod model.

When it detects an alarm going off, the HomePod will immediately send a notification to either your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch device informing you of the potential emergency. You can then tap those notifications on either an iPhone or iPad to double-check if everything’s okay. It could be a false alarm, after all. The device will then announce to everyone in your house that you're checking in.

Apple mentions in its HomePod User Guide the device can double as an intercom via the Home app to talk with others if the need arises. “And if you have a HomeKit camera in the same room as the HomePod,” a direct feed will pop up on your handheld device.

If you’re at your house, you probably won’t need this new feature as you’ll most likely be able to hear the smoke alarm’s ear-shattering scream. This update is meant for people who currently aren’t at home and want that extra peace of mind knowing their HomePod will alert them to emergencies.

At-home requirements

To use the smoke alarm detector, you obviously need to have Sound Recognition turned on which you can do via the Home app. You will also need to have installed HomePod software version 16.4 or later as well as the latest Apple Home architecture. Instructions on how to upgrade your architecture can be found on the company’s support website. Plus, this goes without saying, you'll need working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Sound Recognition isn’t exactly foolproof as Apple points out it “may detect... alarm sounds”, seemingly implying the HomePod might not pick up every single alarm. You may be thinking of getting a smart smoke detector to ensure alarms are heard. However, the majority of smart smoke detectors in the US aren’t compatible with Apple HomeKit with one exception being the OneLink Safe & Sound. The temperature sensor found on the HomePod 2 and Homepod mini models are not being used to, for instance, detect the heat of a raging house fire.

That isn’t to say the update is useless. Far from it, but keep those gaps in mind. Apple states “Sound Recognition should not be relied upon in… emergency situations.” But still, this is a great feature to have. Hopefully, it’s one that you will never need to use in an actual emergency.

Check out TechRadar’s list of the best home security systems for 2023 if you’re looking for more ways to better protect the homestead. 

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.