Siri on my Mac talks to itself via my HomePod mini

Hey there. Here’s something that really wasn’t much fun. I bought a HomePod mini recently and have it in my usual workspace that includes my MacBook Pro. So far I’ve only used a few features – music and podcasts I “Handoff” from my iPhone with a gentle tap (nice), music I select and play on my Mac and then “send” to the HomePod mini via the Sound > Output System Preferences panel (also quite nice), and… uh, well, that’s it. I’m not getting my money’s worth yet from this thing but am hopeful (suggestions on how to use a HomePod mini as much as I use my Alexa devices (a lot!) are invited and welcome!).

Today I was listening to music on my Mac that I found on YouTube, output to the HomePod mini. The music ended, the window was closed… I completely forgot that sound was being sent to the HomePod mini. Then, on my Mac, I asked Siri to make a FaceTime audio call. I didn’t notice from where the “Are you sure you want to” audio confirmation request came (the HomePod mini was on its usual perch, situated on a little box that places the speaker nicely above the back of my Mac’s screen). I tried to confirm (this being Siri it didn’t get my request right the first time)… and I noticed that on my Mac’s screen, in the black Siri window, that everything Siri was saying was showing up as text as if I were saying it… while Siri was saying it.

This was surprising in two ways:

(1) Why?

(2) Does Siri listen while talking? Does this mean I can say “Yes” or “No” or “Please no, don’t call XXX, for all that is good in this world NO” while Siri is talking?

The answer to question (1) is likely obvious to you – Siri was hearing Siri from the HomePod mini, and listening to it as if it were someone else. This needs to get fixed. Has anyone encountered anything like this? There is no setting on the Sound > Input System Preferences panel to set the HomePod mini’s microphone to be my Mac’s microphone, so I’m stumped how to stop this feedback loop. I changed the Output back to my Mac’s speakers and made my call.

The answer to question (2) – not sure. We’ll see.

A corollary – what to do with too many Siris around. While cooking I asked “Hey Siri” to set a timer for five minutes… and my Apple Watch and my iPhone fired up and both set timers a couple of seconds out of sync. If I did that right now, at my desk, I’d likely get four timers going. I could have the same problem with the several Alexa Echo Dots dotted around the house – often several go “bing” when I say, “Alexa, turn off the light” – but I don’t: the other ones know to ignore me and the closest one does the job.

Naturally someone will tell me to turn off “Hey Siri” on some devices, but that can’t be the best answer. I shouldn’t have to remember to turn “Hey Siri” off and on as punishment for buying too many Apple devices over the years. Has anyone else encountered this admittedly very “first world” problem.

Oh, and Siri, please learn a few tricks from Alexa, except the one about harvesting data.

Don’t worry, Apple thought of this. Siri devices coordinate with each other so that only one of them responds to you. You may see all of them (who can hear you) wake up, but only one takes the command.

Thanks, Gordon. I hope so! It was a bit disconcerting to have two timers running at once…

Apple seems to be doing a bit of Guerrilla marketing for Siri. My HomePod sits beneath my 4K TV.

Sometimes, while I’m watching Aaron Rodgers work his magic, Apple will run a Siri-based commercial, and when the TV says "Hey, Siri, what’s the score of the (name your favorite NFL team) game, my HomePod will answer!