Tucked away as a side-note in Bloomberg’s massive report on the new iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch features coming at WWDC 2019 is a mention of a multi-user mode for HomePod.
“Apple is also planning to let the HomePod speaker respond to different users’ voices, creating a much requested multi-user mode,” author Mark Gurman wrote in the Bloomberg story.
No further information was provided.
HomePod has been criticized for not supporting multiple user access, a glaring omission for a smart home accessory that’s meant to be used by families. If Gurman is right, Apple is probably working on Siri for HomePod with support for multiple users.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that a future HomePod software will let you register multiple users with Siri so the speaker could authenticate different users based on their voice.
As evidenced by a patent application for a “Personal domain for a virtual assistant system on a communal device”, Siri on HomePod could instead combine the Personal Requests feature with the presence of a nearby iPhone to authorize multiple user requests.
According to the Home app assets, users with HomePod will be able to create "scenes" that disable Siri temporarily. It will probably be very useful for parties. pic.twitter.com/k2gPc50Kmr
— Filipe Espósito (@filipeesposito) January 21, 2018
In other words, your HomePod could use the local presence of an iPhone as confirmation to proceed with a personal data request.
AppleInsider has more:
The communal device would receive a query from a user, and determine if it is a query that requires access to personal data. If personal data is required and is specific to that user, the communal device would pass the request along to the user’s personal electronic device, namely the HomePod would forward it to the user’s iPhone if it is available locally.
The request to the personal device could consist of asking for permission to access the user’s data itself, if it is locally held, or to acquire the data from the personal device. The personal device could then feasibly ferry the requested data back to the communal device for further processing of the initial request.
The communal device could also pass the request completely to the personal device for processing remotely, such as for sending a text message to a known contact. This would mean no personal data would be transmitted to the communal device at all.
Code strings discovered in January 2018 indicated that the personal assistant could in the future recognize multiple voices and provide custom responses.
How should Apple implement multi-user support on HomePod?
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