Just one day after the launch of the MacBook Pro and Mac Mini models with M2 processors, Apple introduces yet another updated product. It’s the HomePod smart speaker, now in its second generation nearly five years after the original model debuted. Apple promises significant improvements, advanced smart home control and comes at a lower price.
HomePod 2 is a smart speaker for the smart home ecosystem
The original HomePod was praised at launch for the quality of the sound it played, but it was mostly criticized for its high price and the limited features it offered. The new generation retains the overall design, with fabric all around, but is now made from 100% recycled materials. The colours remain black and white, despite the HomePod Mini coming in all sorts of shades.
Inside the speaker, Apple has integrated a 20mm woofer for low frequencies and five speakers for high frequencies. All of these are powered by processing on the Apple S7 chip, the same chip we’ve seen in 2021 Apple Watch models. Even though this is, in theory, a less advanced chip, it’s more powerful even than the A8 chip Apple used on the original HomePod for sound processing. Using a microphone, the speaker can scan the room it’s placed in to tune sound specifically for that space.
HomePod generation 2 also offers support for 3D “Spatial Audio” sound, both on one speaker in “solo” mode and when paired with two for a stereo system. Of course, they can be connected to all Apple devices via AirPlay 2, including Apple TV 4K, which can turn the smart speakers into a home cinema system.
Apple has decided to lower the price of this product
Of course, Siri is at the heart of HomePod control, with voice commands providing access to both searching for audio content on Apple Music and other services, as well as Smart Home functions. Like the HomePod Mini, the “large” model can also be used as an “intercom” to communicate with others in the house who are on other HomePod speakers.
Using technologies such as Ultra Wideband short-range communications, HomePod can “pick up” content playback from an iPhone without extra button presses. However, for those who really want to use their hands, the speaker integrates capacitive control buttons at the top, and the entire area is illuminated with LEDs.
The best news for Smart Home enthusiasts is that HomePod 2 comes with factory support for Matter, the new standard for communication between devices in the home. The speaker can become a kind of hub, for them, providing communication between smart devices and smartphones or tablets, whether you’re at home or not.
Although HomePod originally launched for $399 USD in 2018, the new second-generation HomePod is entering the market at $299 USD and will arrive in stores on February 3.