The Apple HomePod is becoming much more useful as a home theater speaker for Apple TV 4K owners. Apple confirmed The lip that an upcoming software update will allow the speaker to output Dolby Atmos audio as well as 5.1 and 7.1 channel audio from Apple’s streaming box. It works best when you have two pairs of HomePod speakers, but it also works with only one. The new $ 99 HomePod mini, however, will not support the new home theater feature.
Dolby Atmos support arrives as Apple revises the way the HomePod works with its streaming box. For starters, tvOS 14.2 beta 3 allows Apple TV 4K owners to set the HomePod as the default speaker box output, according to 9to5Mac, which means that it should not constantly force users to re-select it as an audio output as it did before when they were connected via AirPlay 2. At this time, this feature seems to require access to a non-public beta version of the operating system. HomePod system, however.
The HomePod also gets new surround sound features, using spatial awareness features to deliver virtual surround sound. As noted on the Apple website, “home cinema with Apple TV 4K” is only supported by the more expensive HomePod, as the $ 99 HomePod mini lacks spatial consciousness or beam technologies HomePod mini can still be used with Apple TV 4K using AirPlay 2, however.
Apple’s upcoming update means the HomePod will reach Amazon Studio, which was able to provide Dolby Atmos sound for Fire TV streaming devices since its release last year. If, however, implementing the Amazon feature is a must-go, then HomePod and Apple TV 4K owners could find a treat. When my colleague Dan Seifert I tried the feature last year found that the Amazon speaker offered sound quality that was comparable to a larger and more expensive Dolby Atmos audio line.
Updated October 15, 6:49 a.m. ET: Updated to clarify that the definition of HomePod as the default Apple TV 4K speaker currently requires a non-public beta.