Apple has unveiled a new HomePod 2 smart speaker, featuring a wealth of massive upgrades that the company claims will offer “significantly” better audio and smart home functionality.
The HomePod 2 launched today, after weeks of speculation that Apple would launch a new smart speaker in the very near future.
The HomePod 2 looks almost identical to the original Apple HomePod we tested all the way back in 2018, featuring a cylindrical design with a woven “100 percent recycled” speaker grille and a smooth top with backlit capacitive touch controls.
Under the hood, though, it packs a few major upgrades that should fix one of the few issues we had testing the original HomePod, which scored five stars in our review. Specifically, the new HomePod will support the Matter smart home standard.
This is a big deal, as Matter is a new standard designed to allow technology from different manufacturers to work together, making it easier to merge a working smart home system with hardware from different companies.
This is a far cry from the first-gen HomePod which, based on our testing, locked you into Apple’s ecosystem and merely played nice with the company’s tech.
The upgrade means it should sync and be able to control any Matter-compatible accessory, including products from Google, Amazon, Samsung and other big makers of shiny stuff. We look forward to seeing how it works when we get the new HomePod 2 in our test rooms for review.
Other upgrades include the use of the S7 chipset first seen in the Apple Watch Series 7. In addition to support for Apple’s Spatial Audio technology, the chip allows the HomePod to intelligently sense its environment. scan and optimize the sound accordingly.
The added performance, coupled with new sensors and upgraded software also adds a few useful new smart home features.
For starters, it has built-in temperature and humidity sensors to create smart home automation to do things like start a siren when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. The microphones can also be set to alert you if the speaker detects certain sounds, such as signs of intrusion.
The other major upgrades relate to audio performance, with Apple marketing the HomePod 2 as a “significant” step up from its predecessor.
“Using our audio expertise and innovations, the new HomePod delivers rich, deep bass, natural mids and clear, detailed highs,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
We haven’t tested the speaker yet, so can’t comment on sound quality, but considering how much we liked the original HomePod and the current award-winning HomePod Mini (£99 / $99 / AU$149) – which we mentioned offering a “sophisticated, engaging sound” when we tested the lower-priced model – we’re excited to see how the new model performs.
One thing we’ve seen in the specs is that the new HomePod actually has fewer tweeters than the new model. Specifically, the second-generation HomePod has a single 4-inch woofer paired with five tweeters and a total of five microphones. The original HomePod had seven tweeters and seven microphones.
All this technology certainly sounds interesting, but until we test the new HomePod 2, we can’t personally recommend it. However, if you can’t wait for our final verdict, the good news is that you can pre-order the new HomePod 2 now for £299 / $299 / AU$479 from the Apple Store, which ships on 3 February.
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