In a move that's sure to make Sonos executives start sweating, Apple has just launched an update to its HomePod speaker that allows for stereo pairing and multi-room audio support.
The free update makes use of Apple's new AirPlay 2 audio connectivity standard to allow die-hard Apple fans with the cash to buy two of the Siri-powered smart speakers to play back tunes in a traditional stereo pairing.
It also allows you to cast multiple tracks to multiple HomePod speakers dotted around your home, or have them set to all play back the same track in sync wherever they are placed.
Simple set up
Apple promises that the set up process for the new features will be simple. When a second HomePod is added to the same room as another of the devices, you'll be offered a prompt to make them into a stereo pair. To avoid hearing confusing double Siri voices, only one smart speaker will respond to voice commands.
Likewise, grouped speakers or those set up in rooms around the home can be controlled in the Apple Control Center, with Siri intelligently understanding voice commands requesting specific tracks being played in particular rooms.
It brings Apple's smart speaker more in line with the functionality offered by Sonos's Alexa powered speakers, and the Amazon Echo range itself. The premium price tag of Apple's HomePod range may, however, limit the extent to which people invest in the multi-room aspect of the update. But those that indulge in the Apple premium regardless of cost will be sure to celebrate the news.
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