Apple has announced the second generation HomePod, which it describes as “a powerful smart speaker that delivers next-level acoustics in a gorgeous, iconic design.”
Among other things, it offers support for immersive Spatial Audio tracks and new ways to manage everyday tasks and control the smart home. For example, users can now create smart home automations using Siri, get notified when a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is detected in their home, and check temperature and humidity in a room — all hands-free.
The new HomePod is available to order online and in the Apple Store app starting today, with availability beginning Friday, February 3. The price is US$299. The first generation model was discontinued in 2021.
The second gen HomePod is available in white and midnight, a new color made with 100% recycled mesh fabric, with a color-matched woven power cable.
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, according to Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. 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, he adds.
With room sensing technology, HomePod recognizes sound reflections from nearby surfaces to determine if it is against a wall or freestanding, and then adapts sound in real time. Precise directional control of its beamforming array of five tweeters separates and beams direct and ambient audio, immersing listeners in crystal-clear vocals and rich instrumentation.
With Sound Recognition, HomePod can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and send a notification directly to the user’s iPhone if a sound is identified. The new built-in temperature and humidity sensor can measure indoor environments, so users can create automations that close the blinds or turn on the fan automatically when a certain temperature is reached in a room.
By activating Siri, customers can control a single device or create scenes like “Good Morning” that put multiple smart home accessories to work at the same time, or set up recurring automations hands-free like “Hey Siri, open the blinds every day at sunrise.” A new confirmation tone indicates when a Siri request is made to control an accessory that may not visibly show a change, like a heater, or for accessories located in a different room.
Ambient sounds — like ocean, forest, and rain — have also been remastered and are more integrated into the experience, enabling customers to add new sounds to scenes, automations, and alarms. Apple says users can also intuitively navigate, view, and organize accessories with the redesigned Home app, which offers new categories for climate, lights, and security, enables easy setup and control of the smart home, and includes a new multicamera view.