It’s only 24 hours since Apple’s last surprise product announcement, but the company just announced a new version of its HomePod smart speaker. This second-generation model is said to have “breakthrough sound and intelligence,” meaning it offers improved audio quality and a more capable implementation of Siri.
It’s almost six years since the first-generation HomePod was released, and it was discontinued in 2021. Although the lower-priced HomePod mini plugged the gap – and is still available for $99 – this will be welcome news for audiophiles looking for bigger, beefier sound from a smart speaker.
The new HomePod has a new, powerful woofer and advanced algorithms for optimal sound balance and clarity. This means that it can play music at a higher volume and with more depth and richness than previous models.
It now has a more advanced chip for computational audio processing, powering Apple’s “room sensing technology” that adapts the sound in real time based on the speaker’s proximity to walls and other surfaces. As before, you can stereo pair two HomePods together, and it works with Spatial Audio.
Siri can now respond to more complex commands and requests. It can also better understand natural language and can complete more tasks such as setting reminders and sending messages. Additionally, the new HomePod can now recognize multiple voices, so everyone in the household can interact with it and receive personalized responses.
The HomePod keeps the same refined design as its predecessor, with a touch-sensitive top that allows users to play, pause, and adjust the volume of their music by tapping or swiping.
The new HomePod is priced at $299/£299, lower than the 2017 model’s debut price ($349/£319) despite six years of inflation. It’s available to order immediately online, with full availability from February 3.
While it’s far from the most exciting product announcement from Apple, it’s a welcome return for a speaker that priced itself out of existence a few years back. There’s clearly still a market for a powerful smart speaker with genuinely impressive sound quality, and the slightly lower price may help it grab a foothold this time around.