Apple’s HomePod Is Back–And It Sounds Better Than Ever
Apple’s presumed-dead audiophile’s smart speaker is returns with smarter and more powerful than before.
When Apple discontinued the original HomePod about a year ago, many users lamented the death of one of the best-sounding smart speakers out there. Those concerns were short-lived however, because Apple’s plan wasn’t to kill its smart speaker but to rebuild it, better and smarter than before. Here’s the low down on Apple’s new HomePod.
Deceivingly heavy despite its diminutive, marshmallowy form, the new HomePod stands just over half a foot tall and just under half a foot wide. Similarly sized Alexa devices probably weigh about half as much and that’s because Apple has absolutely jammed this HomePod with hardware, not just to pump out sound but to optimize the audio quality automatically, no matter what’s playing or where it’s placed in a room.
It’s no surprise that the sound quality of this new HomePod, like the original, is excellent. The speaker array consists of a heavy-duty woofer and five tweeters that leverage Apple’s hardware and software convergence to beamform sound perfectly in a space.
Lows aren’t artificially heavy, like in Beats products, but remain powerful. Highs fill the room and remain crystal clear. Add the spatial audio tracks of Apple Music’s streaming service into the mix and the HomePod creates one of the best listening experiences that can be had for this price point.
The HomePod might primarily be a speaker but it’s also a hub for all things smart home. Siri is built-in here for easy control of music but she’ll also handle lights, thermostats, blinds, switches and any number of other smart home accessories in a pinch.
The HomePod is still packing Apple’s standard HomeKit but now also includes Matter and Thread – newer agnostic smart home standards that don’t favor one tech giant or another. That translates to the HomePod debuting as one of the most capable and potentially future-proof smart speakers available.
To help the HomePod stay on the cutting edge, Apple has also integrated temperature and humidity sensors inside the body, expanding its capabilities and making it an even more useful addition to smart devices that can make everyday living feel like a futuristic adventure.
As with all Apple products, the more that are integrated into an ecosystem, the more each individual device can actually do. For instance, if an AppleTV 4K is the primary means of delivering streaming content, it’s a cinch to use a HomePod in place of a soundbar and the results are impressive thanks to HomePod’s Dolby Atmos capabilities.
For those who really want to punch it out, adding a second HomePod into the mix will seamlessly make both work together to deliver an even fuller, richer audio experience where the two will communicate to play individual channels to create something uniquely atmospheric.
Unfortunately, this stereo pair function only applies to HomePods of the same generation. While it may be enticing to use one of the new HomePods with a HomePod Mini in an attempt to recreate a more traditional surround sound system, the best it’ll deliver is a daisy chain effect, one where the speakers will all play the same audio but they won’t team up.
Apple rounds out their updated take on the HomePod with a few extra perks. The cord is now detachable, though it’s still not battery powered. Intercom capabilities return for scaring the hell out of your partner or pets. Handoff with an iPhone functionally makes the HomePod a bad-ass speakerphone. Even the Home app on iPhone is better with HomePod thanks to scene setting and other automation options.
The new HomePod is sure to scratch an itch for those looking to outfit their homes with both a high fidelity audio system and a powerful, future-proof hub for smart home controls. The HomePod is available for preorder now and comes in Midnight and White options, both of which retail for $299.