Trouble setting up HomePod? Here’s how to fix it

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iPhone X
If this panel turns blank, you're in trouble.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Some folks are having trouble getting their HomePods set up. For most of us, Apple’s streamlined setup is fantastic. The HomePod and your iPhone see each other, and the iPhone tells the HomePod everything it needs to know about your home network, and your iCloud ID. But this simplicity means that troubleshooting failed setups is hard. If you’re faced with nothing but a blank white screen when you plug in, here’s how to fix HomePod.

How to use a USB drive with Files on iOS

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ixpand drive files
Now you can browse some USB drives in Files app.
Photo: Sandisk

There are several workarounds for getting data off a USB stick or SD card, and onto your iPad or iPhone. We’ve even covered some. But until now, there’s been no way to just plug a USB stick into your iPad’s Lightning port, and browse the contents in iOS 11’s Files app. Thanks to an update to the fantastic FileBrowser app, that’s now possible.

How to stop your HomePod marking your fancy furniture

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HomePod doily
Lace doilies -- no longer just for pot plants and figurines.
Photo: storebukkebruse/Flickr CC

Did you know that setting modern materials like silicone down onto traditional furniture finishes like oil and wax, or lacquer, could leave a mark? Judging by the insane clamor on the internet, roughly half of the planet has just discovered this fact, and is blaming it on Apple.

Those HomePod ring marks are a result of the oils in the finish of the furniture being sucked into the silicon base of the HomePod. The good news is the fix is easy, but if you’d listened to your grandmother, you never would have had this problem in the first place.

Use this playlist to remove unwanted Apple Music downloads

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music piano
Who wants to hear music like this?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Shuffle and skipping are two great tools for listening to new music on your iPhone, using Apple Music. You can download lots of new music to your iPhone, then set it to shuffle while you take a walk. If you’re also wearing a pair of AirPods, a double tap on one of them will skip any tracks you don’t like. It’s a great way to listen to new music, with one big, annoying side-effect: You end up with lots of unwanted downloads cluttering up your iPhone.

But with one simple smart playlist, you can fix that right now.

How to get VIP email pushed to your iPhone instantly

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vip email
There's more than one way to "push" mail.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

We’d all rather that folks sent short messages via iMessage, or WhatsApp, or another civilized format that encourages brevity, but they insist on email. But what if your emails could pop up on your iPhone’s lock screen and be as easy to reply to as an iMessage. If you set it up right, your regular iPhone Mail app can do exactly that, using Push and VIP email. Let’s take a look.

This hidden Apple Watch feature tells you if your workouts are doing any good

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It’s not about how far you run, it’s how fast you recover. Apple Watch heart rate recovery data gives you the facts.
It’s not about how far you run, it's about how fast you recover.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

It’s all very well to know how far you ran, cycled and swam. But the whole point of exercise is not just to clock the miles. It’s supposed to make you more fit. So, how do you know if all those sweaty miles are actually doing any good? One way is by measuring your heart rate recovery time.

Fortunately, watchOS 4 provides a reliable way to see this data, and thus monitor changes in your fitness level. Here’s how you can use Apple Watch to keep your workout goals on track.

Stop other HomePod users from polluting your music recommendations

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Apple HomePod smart speaker Listening History
Don't let everybody else's bad taste ruin your music recommendations.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Instead of recognizing the voices of various users and serving up their personal tunes, HomePod is tied to one person’s Apple Music library. That leads to an unfortunate side effect: Whenever anyone in your home tells your HomePod to play a track, that song is added to your listening history.

That means your teenagers’ ironic Ramones session, or your spouse’s un-ironic David Hasselhoff listen-a-thon, will pollute your listening history — and affect your future recommendations. Here’s how to stop that from happening.

How ‘Hey Siri’ works with multiple devices

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hey siri homepod
Hey Siri is smarter that your thought.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Siri itself might be frustrating, but Hey Siri is great. And on the HomePod, the voice activation for your virtual assistant is even more impressive, because it hears you perfectly, even if you speak at normal volume while the music is hammering the walls, the floor, and your neighbors’ patience. Now it’s possible to have many Siri-equipped devices laying around a room, but somehow, when your say “Hey Siri,” only one device responds. Did you ever wonder how? Here’s the answer.

How to use HomePod to control your smart home

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HomePod HomeKit Unboxing
HomePod is a great speaker, and a more-than-adequate Home Hub.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you’re a home automation fan, then you’re going to love Apple’s new HomePod speaker. Not only can you use it to control your HomeKit setup with your voice using Siri, but you can also use the speaker as a Home Hub. That means that you can leave it at home taking care of business, letting you dial in to tweak things from wherever you are in the world.