How to control HomePod from Mac or iOS

The HomePod doesn’t behave like most other Apple
devices. Unlike the Apple Watch,
there’s no dedicated app. It supports AirPlay, so it shows up
in the list of audio sources—but it’s also remote-controllable
like an Apple TV. And to configure it, you don’t visit the
Settings app, but the Home app. Here’s a quick guide to where
and how you can control the HomePod from your iPhone, iPad, or
Mac.

Controlling from Control Center in iOS

Soon after I got home with my HomePod, I found myself sitting
on my couch while the HomePod played music from a few feet
away. I realized that while I could call out a command to make
the HomePod slightly louder, that would make a noise and
disturb everyone else in the living room. I had my iPad with
me; surely I could adjust the HomePod’s volume with that?

The answer is yes, but it took me a while to find it. Perhaps
the fastest way to remotely control the HomePod from an iOS
device (running iOS 11.2.5 or later) is by using Control
Center, where you need to tap on the top right corner of the
audio controller tile (or 3D Touch anywhere on the tile). Once
you do this, you’ll see several different tiles. (You can also
get to this same view by opening the Music app and, in the Now
Playing sheet, tapping on the AirPlay icon at the bottom of the
screen.)

homepod control center tiles

The tile for your device shows AirPlay devices on your
network; the tile for the HomePod lets you control it
directly.

At the top is a tile for your iOS device, showing what’s
currently playing (if anything) as well as a list of all the
available AirPlay devices on your network and a volume slider.
One of the AirPlay devices you’ll see will be your HomePod,
since it supports AirPlay 1 (and will support AirPlay 2 with a
forthcoming software update).

Other tiles on this screen are Apple devices you can control
remotely—Apple TV models as well as HomePod. Tap on any of
these tiles and you’ll get a set of controls that let you
scrub, change volume, play/pause, and change tracks on that
device. This is the quickest way to control a HomePod from an
iPhone or iPad without using Siri.

If you select the tile representing your HomePod in this
interface and don’t tap back to the tile representing your iOS
device, your device will remain in a mode that controls the
HomePod. If you open the Music app, you’ll see that it’s
displaying the currently playing track on the HomePod, and the
controls in the Music app will control the HomePod.

Now, this isn’t AirPlay—the music is still being streamed by
the HomePod—but a remote-control interface. In fact, if you
select your iPhone or iPad using this interface, you’ll find
that you can play music on your device completely independently
from your HomePod.

Controlling from iTunes on a Mac

On the Mac, the interface is similar (but slightly different).
From the AirPlay pop-up menu just to the right of the volume
slider in iTunes (version 12.7.3 and later), you can see
available AirPlay devices (including the HomePod) in the
Computer section. But below that you’ll find a Switch To
section that lists all the devices eligible for remote control,
namely Apple TVs and HomePods.

homepod itunes control

iTunes shows you local AirPlay speakers as well as devices
available for remote control (left); even the iTunes
miniplayer can control the HomePod (right).

If you click on the HomePod, you’ll find that iTunes is now
remote controlling the HomePod, with its volume and navigation
buttons acting directly on that device. The Up Next and History
lists in the player will reflect what’s happening on the
HomePod, and you can add tracks to the Up Next list from Apple
Music. Even the iTunes mini player reflects what’s happening on
the HomePod, and your media-key shortcuts will now control the
HomePod directly.

HomePod as an AirPlay device

Even before AirPlay 2 arrives, HomePod already works as an
AirPlay 1 device. It shows up in the standard AirPlay source
list on both Mac and iOS. You can select it as you would any
other AirPlay speaker, and it will play whatever audio you send
to it, from any app that supports AirPlay.

Keep in mind, though, that when you’re using AirPlay, the
device that’s sending audio is in complete control of the
HomePod. Audio is streaming from your device to the HomePod
directly, and that means that if you do something to upset the
audio playing—like tapping on a video on Twitter or
Facebook—it’ll stop the music and play the audio that came with
the video, just as it would if it were coming out of your own
device’s speaker. (AirPlay 2 will offer the ability to play
different sounds on different devices, but we’re not there
yet.)

What AirPlay will let you do is stream Spotify tracks,
Overcast podcasts, or just about anything else you can think of
from your iPhone to your HomePod. And on the Mac, don’t forget
that all AirPlay devices show up in the Sound pane of the
System Preferences app as outputs, so you can also route sound
from any Mac app to your HomePod.

It’s still early days for the HomePod. The arrival of AirPlay 2
will make it an even more flexible device in terms of
controlling and streaming audio remotely. But even now, you can
take control of your HomePod not just via your voice, but with
any Apple device running the most current versions of iOS or
macOS.

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