The HomePod’s sound quality has been unanimously praised, however, it’s capabilities as a smart speaker have also been equally questioned, especially in comparison to peer offerings with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa support.
While’s there’s still a long list of requested features such as support for multiple timers and voice control for non-Apple streaming services, perhaps the most requested feature is the ability to use the HomePod to make phone calls. In its current iteration, the HomePod is unable to make phone calls, unlike the Google Home, which gained the feature last year, albeit only in the US and UK. For now, users are restricted to using the HomePod only as an audio output device for calls initiated using an iPhone, but cannot use the HomePod itself to initiate new calls.
While there have been rumors of a private HomePod iOS 12 beta specifically testing phone calling support and other features, the fifth beta of iOS 12 has conclusively revealed an updated screen for Personal Requests during the HomePod set-up process. The refreshed screen now includes a fourth placeholder icon in addition to those for Messages, Reminders, and Calendar, as well as updated text referencing the ability to make phone calls. That being the case, this is still no guarantee that we’ll see the feature included in the final build of iOS 12 - Apple routinely tests new features, and unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the past, not all of them see the light of day in the same release.
In any case, it is certainly in Apple's best interest to roll out phone calling support for the HomePod sooner rather than later, especially if it wants to achieve feature-set parity and meaningfully compete in an increasingly saturated smart speaker market dominated by Google and Amazon.