HomePods can now send a notification when your smoke alarm goes off

Apple’s surprise January resurrection of the original HomePod arrived with a handful of new software features. One of the more intriguing of the bunch was sound recognition for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. When the smart speaker hears the alarm, it will send a notification to your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

It’s a nice addition for those who don’t own a connected detector, adding peace of mind when you’re not home. The feature is finally available starting today for HomePod and HomePod mini owners, accessible via the Home app. Once set up, it will serve the notification up on the iPhone lock screen and in the Home app.

If your system is connected to a smart camera, it will also present video of your place, so you can see what’s going on in real time. Apple notes that the feature is end-to-end encrypted, and all of the sound recognition is happening locally on the speaker, instead of the cloud.

The feature is similar to Alexa Guard, which Amazon announced for Echo devices back in 2019. That feature also includes alerts for the sound of breaking glass, which seems like an easy enough addition to implement down the road, should Apple see fit.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been a big Nest Protect fan for years now. It’s the one absolutely must-have smart home device for someone like me who is . . . let’s just say prone to concern about such things when not at home. It’s the one thing I recommend for most people, but alarm detection built into a smart speaker is a useful workaround for everyone else.