Apple introduced the HomePod in 2017 as the company’s first smart speaker, but it wasn’t too popular, and it was quietly discontinued in 2021. Now the HomePod is back, and Apple hopes you’ll actually buy one this time.
The second-generation HomePod looks identical to the original speaker, with the same spherical design, mesh speaker covering, and touch panel on the top. You can ask Siri to start playing something, or select the speaker as an AirPlay target from a compatible Apple device. Compared to the original model, Apple has added temperature and humidity sensors, confirmation tones for some Siri requests, and Matter support.
The HomePod has 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 powered by an S7 chip — the same chip that powers the Apple Watch Series 7. Just like the original model, the HomePod adjusts sound over time based on the walls and furniture in the room, “immersing listeners in crystal-clear vocals and rich instrumentation.”
Unfortunately, the new HomePod still isn’t as flexible as other smart speakers running Google Assistant or Alexa. The specifications page says it’s compatible with Apple Music and “third-party music services” — assuming it’s the same as the HomePod Mini, that gives you iHeartRadio, Radio.com, Deezer, TuneIn, Pandora, and Amazon Music. There’s no native support for YouTube Music, Spotify, or other popular services. You also can’t use it as a Bluetooth speaker, like most Alexa and Google speakers.
The new HomePod looks like an excellent smart speaker… as long as you’re already neck-deep in the Apple ecosystem. It’s available to order now for $299 — a $50 drop from the first model’s price — and will start shipping to buyers on Friday, February 3.