Apple’s HomePod 2 is here. It is the successor to the original HomePod that launched in 2018 but was discontinued in 2020 following poor sales. The new HomePod packs some technological improvements and a slightly tweaked design while still carrying a relatively expensive $299 price tag. Regardless, there are noteworthy improvements to the new HomePod, and here are the five things you should know about the new Apple HomePod.
1. Refined Design
The HomePod 2 looks familiar to its predecessor in terms of physical appearance. However, some improvements to its design enhance not only its looks but also aid in improving the user experience.
To begin with, it has a seamless, acoustically transparent mesh fabric on the outside, which is made from 100 percent recycled material. It is available in two colors: White and Midnight. And, no matter which color you choose, you get a matching woven power cable..
The main highlight is the touch-enabled backlit surface on the top, which is now larger and indented, just like the HomePod mini. It houses the controls for volume and the pause/play buttons. Do note that it is not a full-fledged display.
2. Reduced Tweeters and Microphones
The HomePod 2 is marginally shorter (6.8 inches vs. 6.6 inches) and slightly lighter (5.5 pounds vs. 5.16 pounds) than its predecessor. So, if it has become shorter and lighter, there ought to be a recomposition on the inside. And there is.
While the large (4-inch) high-excursion woofer is still the main speaker, there are only five units of tweeters at the base, instead of seven tweeters on the original HomePod. Moreover, the microphone array now has has only four mics instead of six mics found on the Original HomePod. These changes allow the new HomePod to accommodate the internal hardware in a smaller space.
3. Added Sensors
While Apple has reduced the number of tweeters and microphones in the new HomePod, it has added a couple of sensors. The addition of temperature and humidity sensors is vital in improving the user experience.
How do these sensors help? Since the temperature and humidity sensor can detect the indoor environment, you can create automation or ask Siri to adjust the fan speeds, close the blinds, etc., when the room reaches certain temperatures.
On the other hand, using the built-in microphones, Sound Recognition can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and send a notification to your linked iPhone. Do note that Sound Recognition is not available as of now. Apple promises a software update will make the feature available later this spring.
4. Apple S7 Chip and U1 Chip
The processor of the new HomePod has been upgraded to an Apple S7 chip (a 64-Bit dual-core processor) – the same found in the Apple Watch Series 7. This chip, paired with Apple’s software and system-sensing technology, offers even more advanced computational audio that makes the most of the acoustic system on the new HomePod.
It enables room sensing technology, which allows the HomePod to acknowledge the sound reflections from objects or walls. It helps directional control and utilizes the tweeters to separate and beam the direct and ambient audio to listeners. Which further helps deliver crystal-clear vocals and rich instrumentals, enhancing the overall audio experience.
The U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband Technology which allows you to hand off whatever media you’re playing on your iPhone to the HomePod. Just take your iPhone close to the device, and it instantly beams the media to the speaker. It also works vice versa. For example, if you’re going out but still want to continue listening to music on your AirPods, take your iPhone close to the device, and it’ll hand over the media from the speaker to your iPhone or AirPods.
5. Smart Home Hub
Finally, the main attraction of the new HomePod is Matter support. For those unaware, Matter is an open-source protocol which aims to bring all smart home products (IoT) together while maintaining the highest level of security. An alliance between five tech companies in 2019 – Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and Zigbee – are responsible for bringing Matter to life. This alliance now consists of over 200 companies and is now rebranded as the Connectivity Standards Alliance.
Matter uses Thread as a connectivity protocol. It allows all smart home (IoT) devices to work together without needing a dedicated hub. Instead, it turns one of the existing smart home devices into a border router. Thanks to Matter support, HomePod 2 can act as a border router and allow other devices in your smart home to connect to the internet.
You no longer have to worry about being walled into Apple’s ecosystem and can also try smart home products from other brands. All of this without compromising your security and privacy.
Would You Buy a $300 HomePod?
There is no doubt that the HomePod is an excellent product with all the features it offers. And its seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem is the icing on the cake. However, it is still priced at $300 compared to other smart speakers. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below and if you think Apple has priced it rightly.
Buy: HomePod 2