The HomePod lets anyone in your house listen to text messages from your iPhone

The HomePod.

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The HomePod.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Reviews of Apple’s HomePod smart speaker have pointed out a disturbing flaw in its accompanying Siri software.
  • Siri is unable to differentiate between voices and anyone can prompt the HomePod to texts out loud from an iPhone connected to the same WiFi network.
  • While Apple markets the HomePod for its audio ability, smart speaker competitors such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have superior AI assistant abilities in Alexa and Google Assistant.

Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker appears to have a privacy issue comparable to the nightmare of a teacher reading your handwritten note aloud in class.

The Verge’s Nilay Patel detailed in his review that Siri on the HomePod can’t differentiate between voices. That means anyone can ask the HomePod to read text messages out loud from the main user’s iPhone when both gadgets are connected to the same WiFi network.

“If you have kids, they can just text anyone at will while you’re in the bathroom and you can’t stop it,” Patel wrote. “I tried it with the HomePod behind a closed door and it picked up my voice and it happily read my texts aloud, a nightmare for anyone who lives in a dorm.”

Apple has detailed that the HomePod’s primary function is to provide best possible audio experience. In comparison, other popular smart speakers on the market, including the Amazon Echo and Google Home, have an emphasis on intelligence with more advanced AI assistants. Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant are able to register and identify different voices for the sake of privacy.

Patel also noted that the iPhone has voice recognition to avoid a situation where someone can ask Siri to read your text messages or get other private information. Apple could’ve added the same feature to the HomePod since it’s powered by the same iPhone processor that would normally enable voice recognition.

The HomePod is currently available for preorder and will go on sale February 9.