The rumours circulating since late last year were right – overnight, on January 19, Apple announced a second-generation model of its Amazon Echo and Google Home rival, HomePod. The smart speaker promises to deliver new ways to manage everyday tasks, check temperature and humidity in a room and, of course, play what it describes as “next-level” acoustics.
“Leveraging our audio expertise and innovations, the new HomePod delivers rich, deep bass, natural mid-range, and clear, detailed highs,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With the popularity of HomePod mini, we’ve seen growing interest in even more powerful acoustics achievable in a larger HomePod. We’re thrilled to bring the next generation of HomePod to customers around the world.”
So, how does the HomePod second-gen differ from the first, which was released in 2018, but was discontinued in 2021?
Well, firstly with its design. The new HomePod has a transparent mesh fabric and a backlit touch surface that illuminates from edge to edge. It’s available in white and midnight, a new colour made with 100% recycled mesh fabric.
Secondly, the audio quality is far superior, with Apple saying in a release it offers a “groundbreaking listening experience”. The device uses room sensing technology to recognise sound reflections from nearby surfaces to determine if it is against a wall or freestanding and then adapts sound in real-time. Ambient sounds, like ocean, forest and rain, were also remastered in the new model.
The HomePod can also use its sound recognition tech to listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and if it identifies either, to send a notification directly to the user’s iPhone. Set up its Siri feature and a command like “Good morning” can put multiple smart home accessories to work at the same time, like an opening of the blinds or a turning on of an aircon.
The smart speaker’s able to do this by working with Matter. Launched last year, Matter enables smart home products to work together across different eco-systems (for example, letting Google products work with Apple products), all while maintaining high levels of security.
The new HomePod is available to order online today and in the Apple Store app starting today, with availability beginning Friday, 3 February.
The new HomePod announce comes a month after Apple shared it would be adding a karaoke feature to its Apple Music. Apple Music Sing adjusts the vocals on a song and shows you its real-time lyrics so you can sing along. Available for tens of millions of tunes on Apple Music, the feature lets you choose between multiple lyric views so you can take the lead, perform a duet or sing backup.