Apple yesterday announced the release of a new second-generation, $299 HomePod smart speaker that looks similar to the first-generation HomePod from 2018. This new model is a revival of the HomePod, which was discontinued in 2021 due to market failure despite a price cut.
While the HomePod provided excellent audio quality and ease of use within the Apple ecosystem, critics and consumers felt that its inability to elegantly play back non-Apple content, Siri’s limitations compared to Alexa or Google Assistant, and the speaker’s steep price made it unappealing compared to more affordable smart speakers from Sonos, Amazon, or Google.
Apple later released a cheaper version of the HomePod called the HomePod mini, which performed better but did not dominate the market. As In terms of the major complaints about its predecessor, the new full-size HomePod doesn’t do much to change its market position. It does, however, add a slew of new features, some of which are familiar from the HomePod mini and others that are not.
The new HomePod has the same S7 chip as the Apple Watch Series 7, whereas the original HomePod has the A8 chip found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. According to Apple, the new chip provides “even more advanced computational audio.”
In addition, the new HomePod has fewer tweeters than the original model. According to Apple’s specifications, the new HomePod has five tweeters around its base, as opposed to seven in the original smart speaker. The tweeters contribute to the acoustic performance of the HomePod by optimising “high frequencies to produce detailed, articulate audio with stunning clarity.”
Apple’s decision to reduce the number of tweeters and microphones was most likely a cost-cutting measure.
It is currently unknown whether this will result in a noticeable decrease in audio performance. While the original HomePod’s power cable required force to remove, the new HomePod’s power cable is easily detachable. The original HomePod came with the cable attached, and Apple did not recommend forcibly removing it.
A larger backlit touch interface on the top of the speaker is one of the noticeable design changes with the updated HomePod. When compared to the original HomePod, the new model has a significantly larger interface that glows and illuminates different colours to show the speaker’s status and when Siri is active.
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