Apple has unveiled a replacement for its 2018 HomePod smart speaker.
The HomePod (2nd generation) introduces a larger speaker to the line-up again, with the original having been phased out in 2021 and only the HomePod mini continuing. It features a similar design to before but with a number of improvements inside and out.
For starters, it supports Matter – the smart home standard that enables devices from multiple manufacturers to each recognize and work with each other seamlessly. It is also compatible with Apple’s Spatial Audio technology, allowing designated tracks played via Apple Music to play across a more encompassing soundstage.
The aesthetic has been enhanced with a touch surface on the top of the speaker that is back-illuminated (to look like Siri on an iOS device or Mac). It lights up from edge to edge in multiple colours.
There is also a new white version of the HomePod, to offer an option to the black model.
Audio is driven by Apple’s S7 chip which, combined with software and system-sensing tech, offers more advanced computational audio than before, There is a custom-engineered, high-excursion woofer inside along with five beamforming tweeters around the base. This means it should be capable of deep bass levels, but without muddying clean, precise mid and high frequencies.
The new HomePod also comes with room sensing technology that adapts the sound depending on its placement – against a wall, for example. This allows it to provide the same level of performance no matter whether there are audio reflections or not.
More than one HomePod (or HomePod mini) can be used to create a multiroom audio experience, or you can pair two together for a stereo setup. It can also be paired with an Apple TV 4K to improve TV listening.
Of course, it is also a smart speaker with Siri support, so you can use your voice to control it. Up to six different voices can be recognized, so it can distinguish between different Apple Music accounts, say, and play personal playlists.
One smart home feature it offers is that it can listen out for alarms, such as smoke or carbon monoxide, and notify the home owner on their iPhone. Scenes and automations can also be set, which can be controlled through Apple Home.
The second-generation Apple HomePod is available to order now in several countries, including the US, UK and some across Europe. It is priced at $299 / £299 and will ship from 3 February 2023.