One of the areas where Apple’s iOS has excelled since early days is in Parental Control options. While others have caught up and Amazon has even passed them when it comes to granular, on-device options, Apple is still at or near the top when it comes to restricting music streaming. In fact, several of their competitors have little to nothing in the way of content ratings restrictions for music.
As it is with Siri, the new HomePod’s parental restrictions are barebones at this time. Currently, this is an all or nothing decision. Here is where you can set it up:
All HomePod preference management takes place in the Home app installed in iOS. If you go to the app after setting up your HomePod, you will see an icon for it listed there.
As you can see, mine is a little lonely since I have taken no interest in Home Automation yet.
If you tap on the icon while on the network with your HomePod, you will actually pause or play whatever is cued up. To go into Settings, press and hold the icon to bring up this screen:
Now select “Details” to enter Settings for the HomePod.
Right under account, you have the option to Allow Explicit Content. If you turn this off, any content labeled with the E tag will not play.
Just hit Done in the top right of the screen and the change will take effect. It works very quickly, depending on your network speed.
Note that Siri never notified me of content being blocked. It would either pick a different song with the same or similar title, or just say that it failed to find it. When I asked for the Ben Folds Live album, which only has one track without the E label, Siri announced and played the one track that it could. This is probably better than the alternative, as making people aware that they are being actively blocked from certain content will get them looking for ways to bypass the it.
One issue I saw with this setup is that every instance of a track may not be labeled as Explicit. I used Ben Folds Rockin the Suburbs as a test, as it is filled with curse words and the original album version has the E label. Despite this, some other live and Greatest Hits versions do not have the label, so HomePod will just skip to one that doesn’t and play it, fun words and all.
I did the same with another Folds song, Bastard. I allowed Explicit content and the original song played, as requested. When I disabled Explicit content again and asked for the song a second time, Siri even told me that she was playing it off a different album. Sure enough, no E next to that version.
So Siri did exactly what I told it to, but there are gaps in the system. This really isn’t Apple’s problem, as it is the music labels that provide this track information. Just be aware that flipping this toggle in Settings isn’t magic. Objectionable content can still get through.
Also be aware that this setting has nothing to do with AirPlay, so if you don’t have limits set on your kids’ devices or ones that they have access to, then they can easily bypass this setting. As any parent knows, a young child can do this very easily by accident, spawning some interesting questions and conversations.
Hopefully we will get multi-user capability enabled on the HomePod in the coming months, based on voice recognition. They really have to add it just to keep up with the field. This will allow each individual user’s Restrictions settings to take precedence while they are listening using HomePod. Until then, I’m glad Apple has at least given those of us with kids in the house the ability to restrict Explicit content, as needed.