Apple has added another device to its portfolio today, by announcing the new second-generation HomePod with a virtually identical design, a successor to the full-size model which was discontinued two years ago in 2021. The 2nd gen HomePod comes packed with several upgrades over the previous-gen HomePod that could make for the smartest Siri speaker yet.
Apple has included the new HomePod with improved smart home features, temperature and humidity sensors that can measure indoor environments. HomePod 2’s temperature and humidity sensing has been optimized for indoor, domestic settings with ambient temperatures between 15ºC and 30ºC and relative humidity around 30 to 70 percent. It will be sold for $299.
At $299, the HomePod 2 is slightly pricier than many of the best smart speakers currently available from Amazon and Google. However, its new features help it to emerge as the intelligent home audio product Apple fans have been waiting for. Design wise, it is much similar to the previous-gen model, while the touch surface on the top of the new HomePod now illuminates from edge-to-edge, similar to the HomePod mini.
It has a four-inch high-excursion woofer, five tweeters, four microphones, an S7 chip from the Apple Watch Series 7 for computational audio. To recall, the original HomePod was launched with A8 chip from the iPhone 6, and the HomePod mini was offered with S5 chip from the Apple Watch Series 7.
For the first time, The 2nd HomePod also has a U1 chip, which will be used for more advanced and reliable Ultra Wideband features like Handoff features when transferring music from your iPhone to your HomePod, and support for Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. The speaker has been integrated with Siri, and there’s also Matter support for HomeKit and other smart home accessories.
The new HomePod has transparent 100% recycled mesh fabric with a colour-matched woven power cable and a backlit touch surface that illuminates from edge to edge. It will be offered in two colours – Midnight and White, while the HomePod mini is being offered in 5 colours. The new HomePod measures 5.6-inches wide, 6.6-inches tall and weighs 5.1 pounds.
The mic array has been downgraded to four microphones for far-field Siri, compared to six microphones in the previous generation HomePod. It can create a stereo pair with two HomePod speakers in the same space, or add more HomePod or HomePod mini speakers for a variety of powerful features, and you will be able to pair it up with Apple TV 4K.
Apple claims downgraded mic array won’t have an impact on sound quality:
HomePod delivers incredible audio quality, with rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies. A custom-engineered high-excursion woofer, powerful motor that drives the diaphragm a remarkable 20mm, built-in bass-EQ mic, and beamforming array of five tweeters around the base all work together to achieve a powerful acoustic experience. The S7 chip is combined with software and system-sensing technology to offer even more advanced computational audio that maximizes the full potential of its acoustic system for a groundbreaking listening experience.
Just like the predecessor, the 2nd gen HomePod should detect a wide variety of sounds on that device, including a doorbell, running water, a baby crying, a car horn, a door knock, a cat meowing or dog barking, and more. But, Apple hasn’t mentioned these features in its press release. As of now, we don’t know whether these features will be limited to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on the speakers, and send a notification directly to your iPhone if a sound is identified.
Apple has also added a U1 chip to the full-size HomePod for the first time. The company says this chip is used for more advanced and reliable Handoff features when transferring music from your iPhone to your HomePod. It also features 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Thread.
The new HomePod has a $299 (₹32900.00 in India) starting price, and it is now available to pre-order starting today for $299, while the In-store availability and deliveries to the buyers will begin on Friday, February 3 in select countries.
Source: Apple Press