How to set up Apple’s HomePod speaker

The new HomePod speaker from Apple goes on sale Friday for $349. If you’re planning on buying the premium Siri-powered music speaker, the first task you’ll be faced with after unboxing is setting the thing up. It’s not difficult, but it involves one very important decision.

To kick things off, bring a compatible iOS device (running iOS 11.2.5 or later) in close proximity to the HomePod. A prompt with a 3D model of the HomePod should automatically appear on screen. (If you’ve seen the AirPods pairing screen, this looks just like that.)

If you’re a HomeKit user, the next steps will ask you to choose which “Home” the HomePod is for (most of us won’t see this screen since we’ve only got one) and then specify the room it’s in, depending on whether you’re placing it in the living room, bedroom, kitchen, or someplace else.

After this you’ll see a prompt explaining the HomePod’s “Personal Requests” feature. Pay attention to this part! If you turn Personal Requests on, anyone near the HomePod will be able to access and send text messages through the speaker’s connection to your iPhone. They can also create notes, add reminders, and do other things involving your personal iCloud account. If you’re at all concerned about privacy, you should disable Personal Requests until the HomePod can recognize individual voices and make a distinction between users. Right now, it can’t do that.

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Next you’ll quickly gloss over the Terms & Conditions screen and get to the part where HomePod automatically transfers crucial settings (iCloud account info, Wi-Fi password, etc.) over from your iOS device. You’ll see exactly which preferred iCloud and Apple Music libraries the HomePod will be using.

Once you hit “Transfer Settings,” the HomePod will emit a tone that helps your iPhone identify it and automatically pair and send over the settings mentioned above. This takes just a few seconds. You’ll have to enter your Apple ID password before this step completes. When it’s done, Siri will say hello and offer a quick tutorial on the HomePod’s supported voice commands.

After that, you’re pretty much all set! Start requesting Apple Music tracks from Siri or use AirPlay on your phone to get your Spotify playlists working. Then just sit back and enjoy your new fancy speaker.

When your HomePod is up and running, you can access its settings from Apple’s Home app on iOS. Here, you can make changes like blocking explicit content from Apple Music or disabling the HomePod’s Listening History from influencing your personalized playlist recommendations. This might be a good idea whenever you want to partake in some guilty pleasure listening or if someone else is using the speaker for awhile. You can also toggle off the “Hey Siri” hotword or stop HomePod from showing the glowing colors at the top when Siri is listening.