Apple pulls iOS 13.2 update that bricked some HomePods [Updated]

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HomePod Volume Controls closeup
You might want to think twice about rushing to update your HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

For some HomePod owners, the latest software update really was a killer upgrade. Loads of irritated people say the update bricked their HomePods.

New HomePod features like voice recognition for multiple users and the ability to send messages and make calls might sound awesome. But having your smart speaker go belly up sucks out loud. If you previously turned on automatic HomePod updates, you might want to flip the switch and wait until Apple gets to the bottom of the problem.

Update: Apple pulled Monday’s HomePod update after owners reported unresponsive devices. If you managed to successfully update your HomePod, you should be careful. An updated Apple support document warns that you should not reset your smart speaker for any reason. You also should not attempt to remove your HomePod from the Home app.

Monday’s flurry of reports about bricked HomePods round out a rough upgrade season for Apple fans. After iOS 12 focused on stability, this year’s rush to add new features — and split iOS 13 into twin versions for iPhone and iPad — appears to have left Apple’s mobile operating system in a bit of a shambles. In fact, both iOS 13 and macOS Catalina brought a raft of complaints from users. (Catalina bricked some Macs, too.) Unfortunately, it’s not exactly a new problem for Cupertino.

Bricked HomePods

After today’s iOS 13.2 update went out, accompanied by the HomePod firmware upgrade, lots of disgruntled HomePod owners complained on Reddit and elsewhere about the resulting havoc that ensued. For many, today’s “upgrade” meant one or more totally useless HomePods.

“I can confirm,” wrote Reddit user robertleeblairjr. “HomePod is bricked now and won’t reset. Only after updating to audioOS 13.2. No resets, unplugging, removing from HomeKit, etc. has helped. Spinning white circle and attempt to reset will turn the LED red but will return back to white spinning circle. Fucking ridiculous company that releases these products.”

One MacRumors forum user reported owning no fewer than nine bricked HomePods.

“This is amazing,” wrote BarrettF77. “They release this update and the speakers would respond to weather but ask them to play music and they do nothing. Reset all 9 of them and they are just doing a circle spinning on the top for the last half hour. If this bricked them that’s going to really suck and I’ll be done with them at that point.”

On Twitter, things didn’t look much better, as users vented their frustrations and sought answers from Apple Support.

Several people actually sounded so frustrated with their pricey, and now apparently totally useless, smart speakers that they threatened to give up on HomePod.

“Is your #HomePod bricked?” tweeted Jamie James. “Try unplugging it, ripping out the lead and looking for a door that needs propping open. Problem solved. Seriously #Apple, I am a shameless Apple fanboy, but even I think your #HomePod #stinks. Sonos here I come.”

Meanwhile, the Apple Support account on Twitter shuttled users to the HomePod support page to file reports of problems they encountered. Some users said Apple instructed them to bring in their dead speakers for replacement.

PSA: Turn off automatic HomePod updates

Don't take a chance on a bricked HomePod. Turn off automatic updates now.
Don’t take a chance on a bricked HomePod.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

To be clear, not all users report running into problems with the HomePod upgrade. But all things considered, it might be better to be safe than sorry. If you’re at all concerned about the possibility of bricking your HomePod, you probably should turn off automatic updates if you enabled them in the past.

To do so, open the Home app. Tap the little house icon in the upper left corner. Scroll down to Software Update. If you’ve got the Install Updates Automatically switch set to on, just toggle it off. Then you can update the software manually after Apple fixes the bug that’s bricking HomePods.

We originally published this post on Oct. 28, 2019, at 4:31 p.m.. We updated it to note Apple pulled the problematic update.