The Apple HomePod now has one of the HomePod mini's best features

homepod mini
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple HomePod has been given one of its successor's best features, ahead of the HomePod mini release on November 6: the ability to double up as an intercom system for your home. 

The feature was announced alongside the Apple HomePod mini at the company's iPhone 12 launch event, and now owners of the larger original smart speaker can try it out, too.

Apple says the Intercom feature will offer "a quick and easy way for family members to connect with each other at home". 

It allows you to send a message from one HomePod to another in the home, and your voice will automatically play on the designated HomePod speaker. Not only that, but you can send Intercom messages to iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, CarPlay, and even AirPods, so everyone can get the message, whether they're "in the backyard or on their way home".

The update also comes with new Siri features for the HomePod, which allows you to stop alarms, timers, and media across devices. You can now set alarms using songs, playlists, and radio stations from Apple Music, letting you personalize your morning routine.

Not only that, but if you ask your HomePod about a location, Siri suggestions will appear in Maps on your iPhone, as well as web search results.

We're also expecting another software update in the coming weeks that will enable the Apple HomePod to function as a surround speaker, including 5.1, 7.1 or even Dolby Atmos surround.

A cheaper, smaller HomePod

Allowing owners of the original Apple HomePod to use the intercom feature could give them an extra incentive to purchase the HomePod mini when it's released in November – after all, its smaller size makes it an ideal addition to a bedside table, desk, or kitchen counter.

It's certainly not as big a financial investment as the original HomePod; the HomePod mini is set to cost $99 / £99 / AU$149, as opposed to its older sibling, which cost $349 / £319 / AU$499 when it launched in 2018.

That puts it in a similar price bracket to the new Amazon Echo (which also sports a spherical design) and the Google Nest Audio

It's not clear whether the older Apple HomePod will get other HomePod mini features in the future, too; for example, the ability to seamlessly 'hand-off' music from your iPhone to your HomePod mini by holding it close to the smart speaker while music is playing.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.