High-performance M2 Pro and M2 Max processors have made waves this week, but tech giant Apple has more up its sleeves. In an unexpected announcement, the firm has breathed new life into its range of HomePod speakers with the launch of a second-generation model promising “breakthrough sound and intelligence.”
The HomePod line had appeared to be on life support when the original model, dating back to 2018, was unceremoniously cancelled in 2021, leaving only an entry-level £99 HomePod mini to hold the fort. Confirming that Apple isn’t ready to relinquish the smart speaker market just yet, the £299 HomePod 2nd Generation is available to order immediately ahead of availability next month.
Maintaining an aesthetic reminiscent of the original, the 2023 newcomer touts a seamless mesh fabric exterior and backlit touch-sensitive top for physical control. Colour options include white or dark grey, with matching power cable, and there are significant changes under the hood.
Measuring 142mm wide and 168mm tall, HomePod 2 features a 4in woofer (compared to 7in on its predecessor) while the number of tweeters drops from seven to five. More isn’t always better, we suppose, and Apple reckons its custom-engineered woofer, built-in bass-EQ mic and beamforming array work together to achieve “a powerful acoustic experience.”
Everything is governed by an S7 chip commonly seen in Apple Watch, and as a smart speaker HomePod 2 has other potentially useful features. Built-in temperature and humidity sensors pave the way for home automation, the speaker will have an option to listen for smoke alarms and send relevant notifications via iPhone, and full support for the Matter smart home standard is included from the get go.
As before, and in keeping with immediate competitors, there is an option to bind two HomePods wirelessly to broaden the soundstage or create a stereo pair for your Apple TV.
Seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem is an obvious selling point, with Siri naturally serving as built-in voice assistant, but there are stern competitors. Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo Studio, in particular, touts similar smart credentials and currently retails for £190.
HomePod 2nd Generation is available to order now from apple.com/homepod.