Apple unveiled the HomePod 2 — the successor to the original HomePod, which was released in 2018. The new wireless speaker is very similar to the first HomePod in most respects, but seems designed more to target Dolby Atmos movies and Apple Music’s spatial audio.
The original Apple HomePod was one of the best wireless speakers on the market, before it was unofficially discontinued in March 2021 and the company chose to focus on the smaller and cheaper Apple HomePod mini.
HomePod 2 key features
– $299 / £299 / AU$479
Released on February 3, 2022
– Support for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos
– High excitation amplifier, five speakers
Smart home hub with Thread & Matter
But with Apple’s spatial audio-optimized music now a solid part of its offering, and the latest version of Apple Music Sessions, available at Spatial Audio, a new spatial audio-enabled HomePod always seemed inevitable… (and, to be fair, it was spotted in wild before Apple announced it).
The Apple HomePod mini is a great speaker in its own right, and its small stature and low price pit it against some of the best smart speakers on the market, including the Amazon Echo Studio and Sonos One. But the HomePod is Apple’s inaugural wireless speaker — and the only one that supports well-received Apple Music content and spatial audio.
Rumors that it would feature a screen or be cheaper didn’t really materialize, but we’re still excited about the redesigned HomePod 2.
Apple HomePod 2: price and release date
HomePod 2 is available to order from online Apple Stores starting Wednesday, January 18, 2022, and will be physically released on Friday, February 3, 2022.
It cost $299 / £299 / AU$479, which was pretty much what the previous model cost by the time it was discontinued. It’s the same price in the US, while a little more expensive in the UK, but that’s not surprising given recent currency exchange rates; It is the most expensive 10 Australian dollars in Australia.
The price is high compared to most of the best smart speakers — even the Amazon Echo Studio, Alexa’s most expensive speaker, is about half the price. The Sonos One is also cheaper.
However, there are plenty of more expensive wireless speakers out there, including the likes of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) or the Naim Mu-So Qb 2nd Gen.
So the HomePod is in the middle of the market overall — it’s definitely over the limit for what it is bone People will pay for something like this. But then, that’s what the HomePod mini is for, right?
Apple HomePod 2: Design and Speakers
The new HomePod 2 looks almost the same as the original HomePod, with its rounded shape and fabric-covered exterior. We like this design a lot — it looks great when you focus on it, but it’s also great for blending into the background when you’re not, since it’s simple in black or white.
At the top, there’s a swirling color “screen” (it doesn’t show information, it only appears when Siri or Music is active). On the original HomePod, this was just a small dot in the middle, but now it’s the entire top, just like on the HomePod mini.
The new model is the same diameter as the original at 5.6 in / 142 mm, and is almost the same height – it’s just slightly shorter at 6.6 in / 168 mm instead of 6.8 in / 173 mm.
The inside is different, though a lot of the principles are the same. For example, there is still a large 4-inch tweeter at the top to handle the midrange and bass. High excursion means that the driver moves particularly far forward and backward, so that they can displace more air and produce a bigger, deeper sound.
And there’s still a ring of high-frequency tweeters below the soundbar, but there are now five speakers instead of the original HomePod’s seven, and they’re positioned at the bottom of the unit and angled up. This can potentially help add height and spatial sound effects when used with Dolby Atmos audio.
Apple HomePod 2: Features
All sorts of rumors swirled about what could be in the new HomePod, but it turns out that the second verse is very similar to the first; HomePod’s new features are close to the original.
This means that they are mostly music-oriented in the Apple ecosystem. You can use Siri to request songs from Apple Music, although Siri now works with some other music services as well. You can send music (or any other audio) to it via AirPlay 2 from Apple devices, though there’s no Bluetooth or other way to get audio to it — and that means Android devices are left out in the cold with the HomePod.
It works as part of multi-room AirPlay systems, and you can use one HomePod alone, or two in a pair.
The new HomePod is equipped to support Dolby Atmos music from Apple Music, including Spatial Audio—sounds will bounce off your walls to try to create a sense of the music around you.
And Dolby Atmos skills will come in handy if you own an Apple TV, because you can use two new HomePods as replacements for one of the best soundbars—one Apple TV can send all of its audio to a HomePod, including Dolby Atmos 3D audio.
HomePod 2 also supports lossless audio from Apple Music, for an overall higher quality sound.
It has an Ultra Wide chip, which means it can detect if an iPhone 11 or later is nearby, making it easy to send music from your phone to your HomePod (or vice versa) just by bringing it close.
For smart home fans, the HomePod 2 is even better now. It supports Thread and Matter, next-generation protocols that work with more accessories than ever before — in addition to Apple HomeKit — and can power automations in your smart home when you’re not there. And it has built-in temperature and humidity sensors, which are useful for climate control smart home equipment.