After a hard lesson learned, it seemed unlikely Apple would ever dare to tackle the premium smart speaker space again. Given how the HomePod Mini had a better reception among critics and consumers, we didn’t think a successor to the original HomePod speaker would ever be in the pipeline. Still, it looks like Apple loves a good challenge. Four years after the original, Apple quietly announced the HomePod (2nd Generation).
From a cursory look, it doesn’t look like much has changed with the design — sporting the familiar cues of the original, like the mesh fabric that wraps around the speaker and backlit touch surface. However, this $299 priced Siri-powered smart speaker has improvements and new features under the hood that gives it the abilities of a watchdog for your home.
What We Love About the Apple HomePod (2nd Generation)
Most notably, the HomePod (2nd Gen) is stepping outside the familiar functions of a smart speaker to be a more well-rounded smart home device thanks to its ability to listen out for alarms and sirens. Thanks to Sound Recognition, it will actively listen for those blaring sounds coming from your home’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.
While we love the entertainment value that the new HomePod offers, this branching out to become a home security monitor of sorts is something we love — more so when it has the ability to potentially save lives. Additionally, it also packs temperature and humidity sensors to monitor your home’s indoor conditions. This comes in handy when you tie it with other HomeKit-enabled gadgets for routines, like being able to turn on a fan or air conditioning unit when it gets too hot.
Beyond that, you’ll have access to the same core functions as before. That includes signature features such as handoff to continue playing songs from an iPhone to the HomePod (2nd Generation) by simply holding the phone near the speaker. Audiophiles will also love that the hardware has been upgraded as well, featuring a 20mm speaker driver, high-excursion woofer, and five tweeters. Combined with the Apple S7 chip, it will automatically tune itself to the acoustics of a room to deliver optimal sound quality.
Pricing and Availability
You won’t have to wait long to experience the richer audio performance and new smart monitoring abilities of the HomePod (2nd Generations). Pre-orders are available now directly through Apple for $299, with a general release date set for February 3.
We’re eager to see how it stacks up against the competition, mainly from rivals Google and Amazon. At the very least, we’re glad to see it following the trend of having dual functionality in smart speakers — much like the Amazon Echo Dot’s (5th Gen) ability to double as an Eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh access point. The new sensors packaged with the HomePod (2nd Gen) is yet another testament to this trend, as well as its new Sound Recognition feature.
Not only does it have entertainment value, but we love that it could very well be a lifeguard to alert you about a potential danger in your home.