It only took two years, but you can now use your HomePod to play ambient sounds from nature if you want to relax or you’re seeking some background white noise for working or sleeping. Currently, we know of seven available tracks, but we’ll update this guide as we learn more.
First off, though, make sure your iPhone is running iOS 13.2 and your HomePod is running iOS 13.2.1. To update your HomePod, open the Home app, press the little house icon in the upper left-hand corner, and then press Software Update under Speakers & TVs. If your software isn’t up to date, you should see a prompt to download the latest patch immediately. For more detailed information, check our dedicated how-to.
How to get your HomePod to play random ambient sounds
The easiest way to get HomePod to play ambient sounds is to simply say, “Hey, Siri, play sounds.” Immediately, your HomePod will start playing a random track from its ambient sound library and announce it with a line like, “Here’s ‘Fireplace’ from ambient sounds.”
If you don’t like that particular track, you can say, “Hey, Siri, play the next one,” and your HomePod will start playing another random ambient track.
How to get your HomePod to play specific ambient sounds
The HomePod currently appears to support seven different ambient sounds, although Siri is coy about telling you which ones. If you say something like, “Hey, Siri, what sounds can you play?” then Siri will answer that it plays “a variety of sounds including, Night, Stream, Fireplace, and White Noise.”
Based on experimentation, the currently supported tracks are:
- White Noise
To get a specific track to play, say, “Hey, Siri, play [track name] from ambient sounds.”
Sometimes other words will work, so you can say, “Play ‘River’ from ambient sounds” instead of saying “Stream.” It seems as though only “White Noise” works without saying the phrase, “‘from ambient sounds,” so it’s the only one where you can say, “Hey, Siri, play ‘White Noise.’”
When I said, “Hey, Siri, play ‘Forest,’” for instance, “A Forest” from The Cure started playing. And hey, I love that song, but there’s no way I’m going to be able to go to sleep to that.
How to set up a sleep timer with ambient sounds
Once you have an ambient track going, you can now also tell your HomePod to set a sleep timer so the track stops playing after you’re asleep. Once you have your track playing:
- First, say, “Hey, Siri, make a sleep timer.”
- Siri will then say, “For how long?”
- Say how long you want the timer to last. I typically say, “One hour.”
- Siri will then say, “Okay, I’ll stop playing in one hour.”
Once an hour goes by, the track should stop playing.