Apple in January 2023 introduced a second-generation HomePod, with the speaker coming approximately two years after the original HomePod was discontinued. The second-generation HomePod looks similar to the original and has the same $299 price tag, but it includes new features that make it a more worthwhile purchase.
Available in white and midnight color options, the HomePod features a compact, round design and it is covered in a 3D mesh fabric selected for its acoustic properties. Compared to the original HomePod, the second-generation model is the same width, but just a bit shorter (0.2 inches).
There is an interactive touch screen at the top of the HomePod that supports music playback gestures and lets you know when Siri has been activated and is listening to a command. Siri does not actively monitor what’s being said in the room until the magic words are spoken, and all communication between Siri and Apple’s servers is anonymous and encrypted.
Sound quality is Apple’s main focus with the larger HomePod, though it also serves as a home hub for HomeKit and Matter. It includes a five-tweeter array with each tweeter outfitted with its own driver, and an Apple-designed 4-inch high-excursion woofer for crisp, clear, distortion free sound even at loud volumes. It has fewer tweeters than the prior-generation model, and there is a four-microphone design for use with Siri, two fewer microphones than before.
An S7 chip first used in the Apple Watch Series 7 powers the HomePod, and it uses spatial awareness, room sensing and advanced computational audio to adjust the music in real time for the environment it is in. The HomePod supports Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for music and video, for sound that seems to come from all around you.
Apple says that the HomePod is able to offer rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies, with directional control enabled through the tweeters.
The HomePod integrates with Apple Music and features built-in Siri support, but it is also compatible with third-party music services that have added HomePod support. Two HomePods can be paired together for stereo support, but the second-generation HomePod cannot be paired with the original model in this way. HomePod also works with the Apple TV 4K and can be used as an Apple TV speaker system and its connected peripherals using eARC.
With HomeKit and AirPlay 2 integration, the HomePod can be accessed in the home app and paired with other AirPlay 2 speakers for multiroom audio. HomePod does not work as a standard Bluetooth speaker so while it can be used standalone as it is a smart speaker, it cannot be used with non-Apple devices for playing content over Bluetooth.
The HomePod works with all prior speaker features Apple has implemented, recognizing the voices of multiple users, offering Handoff to iOS devices, and playing ambient sounds like rainfall for background noise. HomePod 2 is also able to serve as an Intercom that allows messages to be sent to different rooms of the house. Features like Handoff are enabled through the included U1 chip.
A Find My feature allows the HomePod to be used to locate Apple devices like an iPhone or AirPods by playing a sound on the device, and Siri can also provide the location of friends and family members that have shared location details with the HomePod user. Sound Recognition capabilities allow the HomePod to listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, sending the user a notification.
Temperature and humidity sensors can be used to measure the indoor environment, allowing those metrics to be used in smart home automations with HomeKit devices. The HomePod also supports Matter and serves as a hub for connecting Matter devices and controlling them when away from home.
Apple’s HomePod is priced at $299, which is the same price that the prior-generation version was selling for before it was discontinued. It is set to launch on February 3.
To further speaker market penetration and to provide an additional price point, Apple also has a smaller and cheaper $99 version of the HomePod called the HomePod mini. For further details, please see our HomePod mini roundup.
The second-generation HomePod can be ordered from Apple’s online store, and it will be available in retail locations on February 3, which is also the day that the first orders will arrive to customers.