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Apple’s new Home Pod pictured in white and black.
- Apple’s second-generation HomePod will be available in stores on February 3 for $299.
- The new HomePod is $50 cheaper than the original, and packs in more smart home features.
- HomePod preorders are available at Apple and Best Buy in black or white color options.
Apple is launching a new version of its HomePod smart speaker, the first full revision of the device since the original launched in 2018. The new HomePod costs $299 and will arrive in stores on February 3; preorders are available now with black and white color options.
The new HomePod looks a lot like the older model, but uses Apple’s newer S7 chip and delivers improved smart home compatibility. It’s Apple’s first new smart speaker since the release of the $99 HomePod Mini in November 2020.
HomePod adds new sensors for use with Apple’s updated Home app
The new HomePod adds built-in sensors for temperature and humidity, and can recognize the sound of alarms for smoke and carbon monoxide in your home. Along with receiving alerts, the sensors will allow you to create routines that automatically adjust your heat or turn on a fan based on the indoor environment. Information from HomePod’s indoor sensors will appear in the Home app on your iPhone and other connected Apple devices.
Apple overhauled its Home app and related smart home architecture in iOS 16, allowing for more complex smart home routines and commands. HomePod will recognize up to six different voices for home commands.
The FindMy app can also be used directly from your HomePod to track down a lost phone or ask about a family member’s location.
The new HomePod fits neatly into the Apple ecosystem
The HomePod is designed to work with the new Home app.
HomePod supports Apple’s Ultra Wideband technology for easier connections with iPhones that are nearby. HomePod can also pair with Apple TV 4K for hands-free control, or to output the audio from any device connected to your TV.
HomePod speakers can be used in pairs to create a stereo setup in your living room, or you can create a multi-room audio system with multiple HomePods and HomePod Minis. Multi-room audio is compatible with AirPlay as well, so you can control multiple HomePod speakers from your phone, MacBook, or other devices.
HomePod prioritizes security and adopts a new smart home standard
Apple says that all smart home communications with the HomePod are encrypted, so they can’t be monitored, including Siri audio requests. HomePod will also use Matter, the new compatibility standard that helps smart home products work with different virtual assistants, like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home, while maintaining security.
Should you preorder the new Apple HomePod?
The new HomePod might be cheaper than the original, but it may be prudent to wait for reviews of the new model to arrive before you preorder. Apple’s smart speakers have struggled to win over customers compared to Amazon’s Echo brand and Google’s Nest, and remain more expensive than the competition.
Our review of the HomePod Mini found it somewhat limited in terms of smart home integration, though that was before Apple’s recent overhaul of the Home app. However, some of the Mini’s drawbacks, like a lack of support for Spotify and fewer compatible smart home devices, could still be an issue for the updated HomePod.
It’s also important to note that the new HomePod actually has two fewer speaker tweeters and two fewer microphones than the previous model. It’s unclear if this change will affect performance.
That said, the device’s audio specs are still solid and its new smart features show potential. We’ll have to wait to get hands-on with the new HomePod to really determine its value, but it could be a good fit for buyers who want a premium Siri smart speaker to pair with Apple Music and an iPhone.