Two years after unceremoniously ditching the original HomePod, Apple is backtracking. The company just revealed its second-gen HomePod, a smart speaker that looks identical to its predecessor. It even carries the same $299 price tag! But this “new” speaker offers a few improvements that could entice you.
Update, 2/3/23: The second-gen HomePod is now available in-store and online through Apple and other retailers.
Note: Some websites claim that the second-gen HomePod is less expensive than its predecessor. Yes, the original HomePod launched at $349 in 2018, but its price fell to $299 one year later.
According to Apple, the second-gen HomePod features upgraded acoustics to deliver “rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies.” Like its predecessor, it uses a custom high-excursion woofer, beamforming speakers, and room-sensing technology to automatically optimize audio quality in any room.
Plus, the speaker’s new S7 chipset enables Spatial Audio, which should provide an immersive listening experience (especially when you pair two HomePods together in stereo mode). You can even use a set of HomePods with your Apple TV. That said, the new HomePod has two fewer tweeters than its predecessor—we’ll need to test it to see if this change reduces the audio quality.
But the HomePod’s most notable upgrades are for smart home users. This device supports Matter, meaning that it can control any Matter-enabled devices in your home (even those that lack HomeKit support). The new HomePod also features an integrated temperature and humidity sensor. Readings from this sensor can be utilized for automations—if temperature exceeds a certain level, for example, the HomePod can activate your smart blinds, adjust your smart thermostat, or turn on a smart plug.
A future update will enable “Sound Recognition” on the new HomePod. This feature, which originally debuted on the HomePod Mini, sends an alert to your phone if the HomePod hears a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm.
You can order the new HomePod today for $299. Orders ship on February 3rd. Note that the second-gen HomePod cannot enter stereo mode with an original HomePod.
Apple HomePod (2nd Gen)
The updated HomePod offers an improved sound quality, plus support for the Matter smart home standard and a set of integrated temperature and humidity sensors.