Apple's new $499 HomePod speaker sounds great -- but there are 7 crucial things it can't do

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Apple’s new $499 smart speaker, HomePod, starts shipping February 9.
  • It has some cool features like “room-sensing technology,” the ability to work as a HomeKit hub, and – most importantly – high-quality sound.
  • But it has several limitations, like the fact that it can only work with iOS devices, and the inability to sync with your calendar.

When Apple’s HomePod starts shipping on February 9, it will be able to do a lot of things no other Apple product can currently do.

It will be the best way to listen to Apple Music – if our quick demo was any indication, it will sound amazing. It can tell you more about the artists you like and come up with playlists based on what it thinks you’ll enjoy.

It will even be able to map out the room it’s in – something Apple calls “room-sensing technology” – to provide a better listening experience.

But there are a few things HomePod can’t do, things that other smart speakers on the market can. Did you know, for instance, that you must have an iOS device to set it up?

Here are seven major things Apple’s new HomePod can’t do:

1. HomePod can’t pair with Android phones

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In order to set up your new HomePod, you need to have an iOS device. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an iPhone – iPads and iPod touches work, too – but it will not work with Android devices whatsoever.

Here are the devices HomePod is compatible with:


iPhone 5s through iPhone X (including iPhone SE)


12.9-inch iPad Pro

10.5-inch iPad Pro

9.7-inch iPad Pro

iPad (5th generation)

iPad Air and iPad Air 2

iPad mini 2,3,4

iPod touch:

iPod touch (6th generation)

2. HomePod doesn’t recognise different people’s voices

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While HomePod will answer to anyone’s commands, it isn’t capable of recognising individual voices. This means you can’t set up user profiles or tailor the device to different members of a household.

3. HomePod can’t check your calendar

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The version of Siri that lives inside HomePod isn’t quite the same as Siri on your iPhone. It can’t check your calendar for events or make a new one.

For comparison, both Google Home and Amazon Echo have those skills – and not just for Google Calendar. Even the Echo can sync with your iCloud calendar, so it’s a bit strange that that feature isn’t available on the HomePod (not yet, at least).

4. HomePod doesn’t work well with other streaming services besides Apple Music


To be clear, streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal will work on HomePod – they just won’t work very well.

Once your HomePod is synced with your device, you’ll be able to play whatever you’d like through the speaker, thanks to AirPlay. But you won’t be able to control your music using Siri, which takes away a lot of the functionality that makes HomePod “smart.”

5. HomePod can’t hook up to another device using an auxiliary cord

HomePod does not have any inputs, so there’s no way to plug in an auxiliary cord to listen on a non-supported device.

6. HomePod can’t make calls on its own

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Right now, if you say “Hey Siri, call mum,” it can handle that in a matter of seconds. But in order to make a call using HomePod, you have to dial the person’s number on your iPhone, then manually select that the call play through HomePod. It works great, but it takes a few steps to get there.

7. HomePod can’t answer random questions

Kif Leswing

The HomePod version of Siri isn’t prepared to answer random questions like Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s not 100% clear what the device’s limitations are exactly, but Apple says Siri on the HomePod is capable of “general knowledge.” That likely means it can’t answer obscure trivia questions, play games, or tell jokes like other smart speakers.

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