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Apple HomePod's Intercom feature is like a whole-house walkie-talkie. How to use it

Use a HomePod or HomePod Mini to broadcast a message to everyone in your home.

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HomePod Mini is Apple's affordable smart speaker for almost everyone.

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One of the only features my family and I consistently used on the various Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers we had around our home was the ability to broadcast a message to everyone in the house. Until recently, it was a feature that Apple's HomePod was lacking. But with the launch of iOS 14 and the release of the more affordable HomePod Mini, Apple added an Intercom feature

As the name implies, you can use your HomePods to send voice messages to everyone in your home, or to specific rooms, using Siri. But Apple took the feature one step further by allowing you to send and receive the same messages from an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. Heck, you can even use CarPlay to send and receive intercom messages. 

Before you can use the intercom feature, make sure all of your Apple devices -- iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, HomePod, HomePod Mini and Apple Watch are running the latest version of their respective software. Below we'll walk you through how to use your HomePod as an intercom and where to find all of its settings.

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Take a few minutes to make sure Intercom is set up the way you want. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Adjust your Intercom settings before getting started

Before you start using Intercom, it's a good idea to take a look at the settings. 

On your iPhone or iPad, open the Home app, tap the Home icon in the top-left corner, and select Home Settings > Intercom where you're presented with three different settings:

  • Choose whether you want to receive Intercom messages on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch only when you're home, or regardless of where you are. Alternatively, you can opt to not receive them at all.
  • Select which members of your home can use Intercom's remote access feature. You'll need to invite someone to share your home before they show up in this section. You can do that by opening the Home app and going to Home Settings > Invite People to give them access to all of the HomeKit devices you have set up.
  • Finally, you can enable or disable Intercom on specific HomePods in your home.
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You'll know Siri is listening when you see the top of your HomePod light up. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Learn these Intercom commands

Using Apple's Intercom is easy-peasy. With your HomePod within earshot, you can say something like "Hey Siri, intercom It's time to eat." A few seconds later, a recording of your message will play on the rest of your HomePods. It will also be sent to members of your home who've opted to receive remote alerts. 

You can also use Siri on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch to send Intercom messages using the same phrases. 

I've tried a few variations of the command and found that saying something along the lines of "ask everyone" or "announce" in place of "intercom" has worked. I've also tried using "broadcast," but that has resulted in Siri playing a random song with broadcast in the title. 

You can reply to an Intercom message you hear on a HomePod with the command "Hey Siri, reply I'll be up in a minute."

If you want to limit the message to a specific room or area, you can specify that in your command. For instance, "Hey Siri, ask the basement what time do we need to leave?" would only send the Intercom message to any HomePods you have in the basement. You'll need to use the same sort of phrasing if you want to limit a reply to a specific room, such as, "Hey Siri, reply to the bedroom we need to leave in 15 minutes."

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You can listen to your Intercom messages on your iPhone. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Send messages from the Home app

There's another way you can send an Intercom message without using Siri. This will work on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. 

On your phone or tablet, open the Home app and make sure you're viewing the Home tab. Tap the Intercom icon in the top-right corner and start talking to create your message. Tap Done to send the message. 

On your Apple Watch, open the Home app and tap the Intercom button, record your message and then tap Done to send it. 

Now that you know how to use the Intercom feature, make sure to check out the rest of our tips and tricks for Apple's HomePod. After that, learn all of the hidden features we've found in iOS 14, followed by every tip and trick we know for your iPhone