Apple announces the return of the full-sized HomePod
The HomePod smart speaker has been revived for a new generation of music lovers, and now rocks computational audio, enhanced Siri voice assist, support for sonic immersion, and smart home integration.
Apple first revealed its challenger to Amazon's Echo at its annual developer event in 2017, but folks had to wait until February of the following year before it was finally made available. The company followed up with a mini flavor in 2020, which proved to be much more of a hit than its larger sibling and the HomePod was discontinued in 2021.
On the outside, the 2nd-gen HomePod looks pretty much the same as before (albeit a teeny bit shorter and a few ounces lighter) but there are notable changes inside. This "refined design" sees the seven tweeter array to the bottom of the original cut to five and the smart speaker also loses two microphones (down from seven to five). The single high-excursion woofer appears to have survived intact though.
The speaker can determine how it's positioned in the room – whether it's near a wall or freestanding, for example – and adjust the output accordingly. There's support for immersive Dolby Atmos spatial audio, multiroom playback over AirPlay can be set up, and it can be paired with another HomePod or HomePod mini for stereo delivery. It can also connect with Apple TV 4K for home theater audio potential.
The new HomePod can recognize up to six user voices, allowing each member of the household to tap into a personal playlist with ease, or ask Siri to set reminders and calendar events. Users are able to hand off a song or playlist from an iPhone courtesy of the company's Ultra Wideband technology, and can even ask Apple's digital assistant for help locating a misplaced iPhone using the company's Find My tech.
Control of smart home tech is possible via the Home app and/or Siri, and the speaker now sports a built-in temperature and humidity sensor – allowing users to automate close living room blinds or activate an overhead fan at a predetermined temperature.
Following an upcoming software update, it will also be able to fire off a notification to a user's iPhone if a fire or smoke alarm is detected. Thanks to support for the Matter connectivity standard, smart home integration should work seamlessly across compatible ecosystems too.
"Leveraging our audio expertise and innovations, the new HomePod delivers rich, deep bass, natural mid-range, and clear, detailed highs," said Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing, Greg Joswiak. "With the popularity of HomePod mini, we’ve seen growing interest in even more powerful acoustics achievable in a larger HomePod. We’re thrilled to bring the next generation of HomePod to customers around the world."
The 2nd-gen HomePod joins the mini in Apple's smart speaker lineup, and is on sale now for US$299 – though shipping isn't expected to start until February 3. Android phone users will need to look elsewhere.
Product page: HomePod