Editor's Note: We've had a chance to test the new speaker, check out our findings in What Hi-Fi?'s Apple Home Pod 2 review. You can continue reading our original news story below.
Apple has unveiled a new HomePod 2 smart speaker, featuring a wealth of huge upgrades that the firm claims will let it offer “significantly” better audio and smart home functionality.
The HomePod 2 launched today, following weeks of speculation that Apple would launch a new smart speaker in the very near future.
The HomePod 2 looks nearly identical to the original Apple HomePod we reviewed all the way back in 2018, featuring a cylindrical design with a woven “100 per cent recycled” speaker grill and a smooth top housing backlit capacitive touch controls.
However, under the hood, it features a few key upgrades that should fix one of the only issues we had testing the original HomePod, which scored five stars in our review. Specifically, the new HomePod will support the Matter smart home standard.
This is a big deal as Matter is a new standard designed to let tech from different manufacturers work together, making it easier to stitch together a working smart home system using hardware from different companies.
This is a far cry from the first gen HomePod which, based on our testing, locked you into Apple’s ecosystem and only really played nice with the company’s tech.
The upgrade means it should sync and be able to control any Matter-compatible accessory, which includes products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and other big-name shiny thing makers. We’ll be looking forward to seeing how it works when we get the new HomePod 2 into our test rooms for review.
Other upgrades include a move to use the S7 chipset first seen in the Apple Watch Series 7. As well as support for Apple's Spatial Audio tech, the chip means the HomePod can intelligently scan its environment and optimise its sound accordingly.
The added performance power, coupled with new sensors and upgraded software also adds a few nifty new smart home features.
For starters, it has built-in temperature and humidity sensors to create smart home automation to do things like start a siren when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. The mics can also be set to alert you if the speaker detects certain noises, like signs of a break-in.
The other main upgrades relate to its audio performance, with Apple marketing the HomePod 2 as being a “significant” step forward on its predecessor.
“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.
We haven’t tested the speaker yet, so we can’t comment on audio quality, but considering how much we liked the original HomePod and current Award-winning HomePod Mini (£99 / $99 / AU$149) - which we listed as offering a “sophisticated, engaging sound” when we tested the cheaper model - we’re excited to see how the new model performs.
One thing we've spotted in the specs is that the new HomePod actually features fewer tweeters than the new model. Specifically, the second-generation HomePod has a single 4-inch woofer paired with five tweeters, and a total of five microphones. The original HomePod had seven tweeters and seven mics.
All this tech certainly sounds interesting, but until we test the new HomePod 2 we can’t personally recommend it. However, if you can’t wait for our definitive verdict, the good news is that you can preorder the new HomePod 2 now for £299 / $299 / AU$479 on the Apple Store, with it set to ship on 3rd February.
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Apple's HomePod 2 looks great - but it won't fix smart speakers' biggest problem