HomePod Disables Calendar, Messages, Notes, and Reminder Features When Owner Isn't Home, But Apple Music Account Remains Accessible

Earlier this week Apple announced the official HomePod launch date and revealed more details about the Siri-equipped smart speaker, including a built-in speakerphone feature and support for third-party music app streaming via peer-to-peer AirPlay, both of which anyone in the home can use. However, Apple has yet to adequately clarify the extent of its multi-user functionality with regards to Apple Music and other iCloud integrations, leaving many readers wondering if the HomePod is the right fit for their home.


In possibly the first hands-on HomePod report since Apple's launch date announcement, Refinery29 on Wednesday shed further light on the device's multi-user capabilities. According to the article, many of Siri's personal assistant features can only be tied to the individual iCloud account used to set up the HomePod. These features can be manually disabled by the account holder, but they also appear to be automatically disabled when said account holder isn't home.

Although everyone in your apartment will be able to use the speaker, only the person who sets up HomePod on their iCloud account will be able to send texts, set up reminders, and get calendar notifications via voice commands.

If you do set up personal notifications on HomePod, these will only be available when you are on the network, so you don't need to worry about your texts being read aloud at home when you are at work. If you don't want them read aloud when you're home, you can go into your HomeKit settings and turn off the notifications.

Apple hasn't revealed how the HomePod detects when the owner of the iCloud account it is linked to is home, but the article suggests the speaker is able to keeps tabs on any iOS devices serving the same user account on the same local network. This function also appears to relate to how HomePod makes a (presumably single-user) Apple Music subscription accessible to other users at home when the owner is away, as revealed in documentation shared with Apple Store staff:

Everyone can enjoy music – After HomePod is set up, anyone in the home can enjoy music even when you're not there. HomePod streams Apple Music directly so your iPhone doesn't need to be nearby.

We already know that if no Apple Music subscription is linked to a HomePod during setup, users are still able to play content that's been purchased from iTunes along with Beats 1 radio content and podcasts, but it remains unclear to what extent this content is available to others when the user of the iCloud-linked account isn't home. Also still up in the air is how Apple Music's personally tailored curation service will fare under the pressures of multi-user HomePod access, as well as how Apple Music Family subscriptions will factor in.

Otherwise, the Refinery29 article comments on the HomePod's design and acoustic intelligence similar to what we've heard in previous hands-on reports, including its "crisper and clearer" audio quality when compared against speakers like the Google Home Max, the latest Amazon Echo, and Sonos One. However, it's worth noting Google Home and Amazon Echo can recognize different voices and serve personalized content to multiple users, something which the HomePod doesn't seem capable of at this stage.

At launch, HomePod will be available in the United States, UK, and Australia. In the U.S., it will be priced at $349, and it will cost £319 in the UK and $499 in Australia. Apple will begin accepting orders for the HomePod on Friday, January 26, with the device set to launch two weeks later on Friday, February 9.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
36 months ago
Hot damn Apple. Stop being so vague! You're trying to sell a product and there are still just as many questions about it's operation as there are answers. The pre-orders start tomorrow. People shouldn't be speculating what the product does/doesn't do. That should be readily available info by now.

/Rant over
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago
"...only the person who sets up HomePod on their iCloud account will be able to send texts, set up reminders, and get calendar notifications via voice commands."

I don't understand tying a speaker to a specific person. Speakers are (nominally) relatively communal in nature. With this setup we would need 2 speakers to enjoy the supposed benefits of having a smart speaker in the home. Which makes the smart speaker seem pretty dumb.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago
So, "everyone" can enjoy music, but nuts to anyone else for any other feature.

Funny how much Apple is Trumping up the idea it can be used by everyone when in reality it will only fully benefit one user in the house. It's Apple's usual tactic of spinning and downplaying a negative into a feature. I guess Apple wants you to buy many $400 HomePod's for each iCloud user to set up in their own room.

Why can't they just duplicate what both Google and Amazon devices do, let you pair multiple iCloud user accounts and then use "i-n-n-o-v-a-t-i-o-n" to identify different voices and link actions and skills to that user's account? Why can't two users in the same household ask an "assistance" product what their next appointment is without having to go into earshot of their own specific HomePod?!?!?!? Or what are people going to do, line up 2 or more of these in a row and hope they response properly to each "owner" without the other one hearing?

It's not rocket science, and it shouldn't be for a near 1 trillion dollar company, and yet Apple keeps dismissing the capabilities of their, supposedly, inferior competition while struggling to implement their own less capable version.

But sure, HomePod will sound the best...yay...it's not like I don't have access to numerous great sounding speaker products already.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago
A family device that doesn’t support multiple iCloud accounts. What?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago
Tell me why we need another voice assisted speaker again?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago
So if you don't care about voice, then Homepod is not for you. There are plenty of Sonos speakers that offer much more and probably much better sound.

If sound quality doesn't matter to you, you don't. To me HomePod's voice features are barely relevant - sound quality is all I care about.

Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter [Updated]

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 12 Six-Foot Drop Test Results: Ceramic Shield More Durable But Not Damage Proof

Monday October 26, 2020 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro feature a new Ceramic Shield screen that Apple says offers 4x better drop performance. To test that claim, Allstate Protection Plans put the two models through a range of breakability tests and recorded the results. In a face down sidewalk drop test at six feet, the iPhone 12 suffered small cracks and scuffed corners and edges, leaving sharp grooves in ...

Bloomberg: New AirPods and AirPods Pro Coming in 2021, AirPods Studio Delayed, Third HomePod Model Also Possible

Monday October 26, 2020 3:34 am PDT by
Apple plans to update its AirPods line next year with two new models including third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on two new models: third-generation entry-level AirPods and the second version of the AirPods Pro earbuds, according to people familiar with the plans. ...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

Apple Files Mystery 'Personal Computer' With Placeholder 'B2002' Name in Bluetooth Product Database

Tuesday October 27, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
Last week, a listing appeared in the Bluetooth product database for an Apple product with a placeholder name "B2002" and a model number of "TBD." MacRumors was alerted to the listing by health and fitness tech website MyHealthyApple. The product is filed under the "personal computer" category, which Apple has used for previous Mac and iPad listings in the database, so it is hard to pinpoint...