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Apple’s HomePod 2 Attempts to Prove You Can Go Home Again

Is there enough in the new Apple HomePod 2 to warrant the $300 expenditure? Let’s explore what’s new.

Apple HomePod 2nd Generation 2023 with iPhone

Apple released its original HomePod in 2018, but discontinued it in 2021, although it did keep the HomePod mini. However, almost 2 years later, Apple has now returned with a new full-size HomePod (2nd generation) that may have been worth waiting for. 

Here is what the all-new HomePod (2nd generation, 2023 model) offers.

Product Design

Apple HomePod 2nd Generation Colors 2023

The Apple HomePod 2 incorporates an acoustically transparent mesh fabric and a backlit touch surface that illuminates from edge to edge that is intended to complement any room decor. The HomePod is available in white and midnight, a new color made with 100 percent recycled mesh fabric, with a color-matched woven power cable.

Audio System

Apple HomePod 2nd Generation 2023 Internals

The 2nd generation HomePod has a built-in custom-engineered four-inch woofer that has a 20mm excursion motor-driven diaphragm, with additional support from a bass-EQ mic for improved bass response.

To complete the full range sound of the HomePod, there is a five tweeter beamforming array.

Additionally, audio is acoustically balanced by separating direct and ambient audio. 

The HomePod’s S7 Apple chip is combined with software and system-sensing technology to provide advanced computational audio that maximizes the acoustic system for an optimal listening experience.

With room-sensing technology, the HomePod recognizes sound reflections to determine if it has been placed against a wall or is freestanding. Sound is then adapted in real-time. 

Music Access

Apple HomePod 2nd Generation 2023 Top Half

Users can listen to a catalog of over 100 million songs with Apple Music (you can also listen to other streaming services such as iHeart Radio, TuneIn, and Audacity), enjoy Spatial Audio (with Dolby Atmos) with a single HomePod or as a stereo pair, or create a home theater experience with Apple TV 4K.

In addition to music listening, Siri voice control allows users to access a range of music knowledge, and search by artist, song, lyrics, decade, genre, mood, or activity.

Multi-Speaker/Multi-Room Capabilities

Apple HomePod 2nd Generation 2023 Stereo Pair

You can use HomePod 2 speakers individually, in pairs, or in groups. 

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Using multi-room audio with AirPlay, users can say “Hey Siri,” or touch and hold the top of the HomePod 2 to play the same song on multiple HomePod 2 speakers, play different songs on different HomePod 2 speakers, or even use them as an intercom to broadcast messages to other rooms. 

Apple Ecosystem

With new Ultra Wideband technology, users can hand off whatever they’re playing on iPhone directly to a HomePod 2. To easily control what’s playing or receive personalized song and podcast recommendations, anyone in the home can bring an iPhone close to HomePod 2 and suggestions will surface automatically. HomePod 2 can recognize up to six voices, so each member of the home can hear their personal playlists, ask for reminders, and set calendar events.

HomePod 2 can be paired with an Apple TV 4K for a powerful home theater experience, and HDMI-eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) support on Apple TV 4K enables customers to make HomePod the audio system for all devices connected to the TV. Plus, with Siri on HomePod 2, users can control what’s playing on their Apple TV hands-free.

Find My on HomePod 2 allows users to locate their Apple devices (such as an iPhone), by playing a sound on the hard-to-find device. Also, with Siri, users can ask for the location of friends or loved ones who share their location via the app.

To easily control what’s playing or receive personalized song and podcast recommendations, anyone in the home can bring an iPhone close to HomePod 2 and suggestions will surface automatically.

Smart Home Features

Apple HomePod 2nd Generation 2023 Smart Home

Sound Recognition: HomePod 2 can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and send a notification directly to the user’s iPhone if a sound is identified. A new built-in temperature and humidity sensor can measure indoor environments. This allows the creation of automations that close the blinds or turn on the fan automatically when a certain temperature is reached in a room.

Siri: Users 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 automation hands-free like “Hey Siri, open the blinds every day at sunrise.”

Confirmation Tone: 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, automation, and alarms.

Home App: The redesigned Home App allows users to navigate, view, and organize accessories as well as new categories for climate, lights, and security.

Matter Support

Apple is a member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, which maintains the Matter standard. Matter enables smart home products to work across ecosystems while maintaining security. HomePod connects to and controls Matter-enabled accessories, and serves as an essential home hub, giving users access when away from home.

Data Privacy

All smart home communication is end-to-end encrypted so it can’t be read by Apple, including camera recordings with HomeKit Secure Video. When Siri is used, the audio of the request is not stored by default.

HomePod and the Environment 

The HomePod 2 includes 100 percent recycled gold plating contained in the printed circuit boards and 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the speaker magnet. It is mercury, BFR, PVC, and beryllium-free. The new packaging eliminates the outer plastic wrap, and 96 percent of the packaging is fiber-based.

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The HomePod 2 also meets Apple’s energy efficiency standards. 

From Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing:  “Leveraging our audio expertise and innovations, the new HomePod delivers rich, deep bass, natural mid-range, and clear, detailed highs….With the popularity of HomePod mini, we’ve seen growing interest in even more powerful acoustics achieved in a larger HomePod. We’re thrilled to bring the next generation of HomePod to customers around the world.

Apple HomePod (White) Stereo Pair 2018
HomePod 1st & 2nd Generation models look nearly identical. The 2023 model is 4mm shorter.

Comparison

HomePod (1st Generation)HomePod (2nd Generation)
MSRP$349.00$299.00
Release DateJanuary 23, 2018February 3, 2023
ProcessorApple A8 (2014)Apple S7 (2019)
Dimensions6.8 inches high (172 mm)6.6 inches high (168 mm)
5.6 inches wide (142 mm)5.6 inches wide (142 mm)
Weight5.5 pounds (2.5 kg)5.16 pounds (2.3 kg)
ColorsWhite, BlackWhite, Midnight
Audio Technology4-inch high-excursion woofer4-inch high-excursion woofer
Array of seven horn-loaded tweeters, each with its own custom amplifierArray of five horn-loaded tweeters, each tweeter with its own neodymium magnet
Six-microphone array for far-field SiriFour-microphone design for far-field Siri
Internal low-frequency calibration microphone for automatic bass correctionInternal low-frequency calibration microphone for automatic bass correction
Stereo pair capableStereo pair capable
Multiroom audio with AirPlayMultiroom audio with AirPlay
Direct and ambient audio beamformingRoom sensing
Transparent studio-level dynamic processingAdvanced computational audio with system sensing for real-time tuning
Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for music and video
Audio SourcesApple MusicApple Music
iTunes music purchasesiTunes music purchases
iCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscriptioniCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription
Beats 1 live radioThird-party music services
Beats 1 live episodes on demandApple Music Radio or episodes on demand
Apple PodcastsApple Podcasts
AirPlay other content to HomePod from iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, or MacAirPlay to share other content to HomePod from iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac
News briefings
Remastered ambient sounds
Radio stations from TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audacy
Touch ControlsTap or hold + or – for volume up/downTap or hold + or – for volume up/down
Touch and hold for SiriTouch and hold for Siri
Tap to play/pause music or SiriTap to play/pause music or Siri
Double-tap to skipDouble-tap to skip
Triple-tap to skip backTriple-tap to skip back
SensorsSound Recognition
Temperature and humidity
Accelerometer
AccessibilityTouch AccommodationsTouch Accommodations
SiriSiri
VoiceOverVoiceOver
Home app and HomeKitHome app and HomeKit
Intercom transcriptions
Wireless802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO802.11n Wi-Fi
Direct guest accessPeer-to-peer discovery for easy guest access
Bluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Thread / Matter
Ultra Wideband chip for device proximity

Tip: HomePod (2nd generation) is compatible with iPhone SE (2nd generation) and later, or iPhone 8 and later running iOS 16.3 or later; or iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation) and later, iPad Air (3rd generation) and later, or iPad mini (5th generation) and later running iPadOS 16.3.

Apple HomePod with HomePod mini
Apple HomePod mini with HomePod

Pricing and Availability

The Apple HomePod (2nd generation) is available to order for $299 (US) from apple.com/store and in the Apple Store app in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, the US, and 11 other countries and regions starting today, with availability beginning Friday, February 3, 2023.

Tip: US customers can qualify for 3 percent Daily Cash back when they buy directly from Apple with Apple Card.

If the HomePod isn’t what you are looking for, Apple also offers the HomePod mini for $99

Related reading: Amazon Echo Studio Looks A Lot Like HomePod for $100 Less

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Mike Cornell

    January 19, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    Just wondering about a few things….
    It can play other devices attached to the tv via hdmi-eARC/AppleTV 4K but can it also play broadcast (over the air) tV?
    Is there a way of adding a sub?
    If not, both are deal breakers.

  2. JML

    January 19, 2023 at 11:49 pm

    Not revealed is the quality of the audio playback from streaming sources – this is apparently limited to Apple’s own AAC wireless codec and will not permit higher resolution streaming from true high resolution sources such as Qobuz and Tidal.

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