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HomePod becomes TV speaker with Apple TV 4K update

Apple has rolled out an update for its Apple TV 4K STB that allows owners of HomePod smart speakers to use them for their TV audio.

Apple TV owners have been able to pair HomePod speakers to their TV-connected device since their launch in 2019 via AirPlay. This allowed one or more speakers to be used as mono, stereo or surround sound speakers for watching content, but only that streamed through the Apple TV device.

Now, with an update called Audio Return Channel, an Apple TV 4K connected to a TV via HDMI ARC and eARC can route all TV audio through HomePod speakers. This means that the Dolby Atmos-capable speaker can be used for everything from watching TV to playing videogames.

The feature update is something of a curiosity, with Apple having discontinued production of the original HomePod speaker without a replacement to be announced. Apple has launched the US$99 HomePod mini, which can be paired to an Apple TV but does not support the new audio return channel feature. 

It is however an indication that Apple is still interested in audio for the TV, and would suggest that reports of the company developing an speaker- and camera-equipped Apple TV device are not entirely unfounded.