Apple announced a new $299 HomePod smart speaker with a form factor similar to the original HomePod released in 2018. New features available in this second-generation model include support for the wireless protocol Thread and the smart home standard Matter, allowing control from the speaker. An upgraded S7 chip first seen in compatible accessories and Apple Watch Series 7. It will be sold alongside the HomePod Mini, a smaller version of the speaker released in 2020. The new HomePod is available to order today and will ship in February. 3.
The second-generation HomePod has a single 4-inch woofer paired with 5 tweeters (down from 7 in the original model) and a total of 5 microphones (down from 7). Apple says the speaker can sense where you are in the room, adjusting the sound depending on whether it’s against a wall or in the middle of a room. Like the original HomePod, the two speakers can be arranged as a stereo pair or used as speakers for the Apple TV 4K. It also supports spatial audio with Dolby Atmos.
Inside the new HomePod.
New to this model is a built-in temperature and humidity sensor that can be used as a trigger for smart home automation. (There have been reports of a similar sensor on the HomePod Mini, but it’s never been released for consumers.) It also uses Apple’s ultra-wideband technology to deliver music like we saw on the HomePod Mini. As a voice assistant, Siri can recognize up to six different voices and provide personalized responses.
With a software update available later this spring, Apple says the new HomePod can use the built-in microphone to listen to smoke or carbon monoxide alarms and notify you if you hear any sounds through your iPhone.
The new model is slightly shorter than the original HomePod by 0.2 inches and slightly lighter at 5.16 pounds compared to 5.5 pounds.
The original HomePod had an unusually unstable lifespan for an Apple product. Originally announced for a December 2017 release, the $349 smart speaker was later delayed to February 2018. When it eventually launched, the HomePod’s Siri did poorly compared to Alexa and the Google Assistant, and reviewers criticized how anchored the smart speaker was to Apple’s ecosystem. . Despite a $50 price drop in 2019, the HomePod was eventually discontinued in 2021.
In addition to being affordable, the HomePod Mini also introduced support for Thread, a smart home protocol that has since become an integral part of the Matter specification. Like the new HomePod, the HomePod Mini can act as a Matter smart home controller and Thread border router to manage Matter devices on Thread, Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks.
According to Apple, the second-generation HomePod will go on sale in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and 11 other markets. Available in white or gray with a “color match” power cable.