What does this news mean about a sequel to the full-sized smart speaker? That remains uncertain for now, but here’s all the news, rumours and speculation about the potential HomePod 2.
Apple discontinues the original HomePod smart speaker
The announcement was somewhat surprising (and there appears to be drop in price either, disappointingly). While the HomePod Mini is said to be a sales success, we had thought the HomePod would continue on until a successor was announced. Perhaps sales still haven’t reflected Apple’s investment in, though you’d imagine a price drop to around that of the Echo Studio and they’d be more punters looking to snap it up.
When will the HomePod 2 be released?
The original HomePod launched in early 2018. Apple announced the HomePod mini in 2020. With Apple discontinuing the original speaker, some have suggested it’s paving the way for a sequel. That seems unlikely, partly as Apple never shows its full hand with regards to hardware so it’d be strange for them to do so in this instance.
Even Jon Prosser, the rather unreliable Apple leaker, didn’t mention news of another HomePod for Apple’s rumoured April event.
There’s likely no need for another smart speaker to turn up any time soon, but where does this leave us? If there is a sequel, could it turn up in 2022 in a revamped form and at a more affordable price?
How much could the HomePod 2 cost?
The HomePod mini is available for the refreshingly affordable price of £99. We’d hope Apple has taken lessons from that pricing strategy if there is to be another full-sized HomePod.
The original cost around £329 and received a price drop to £279 in 2019. Considering the HomePod was criticised for being too expensive, we can’t see Apple making the same mistake twice. Any new ‘big’ HomePod could be available for around the same price of the Amazon Echo Studio. That offers Dolby Atmos audio for nearly £100 less.
What could the HomePod 2 look like?
Considering the mini is a smaller version of the original HomePod, it retains the same aesthetic and acoustic design language. We can’t see Apple not wanting to be consistent whenever it adds another HomePod to its family of speakers.
There are few qualms about the look of the original HomePod, wrapped in its seamless mesh fabric with a backlit touch surface on top where Siri and volume/playback controls appear, it’s a fantastic looking smart speaker.
It is rather heavy though at 2.5kg, an area Apple could probably shave off a few grams (or a kilo). It’d be nice if Apple changed the capacitive power cable as if it breaks you’d need to send the entire speaker back to be fixed. Considering it didn’t do this for the HomePod mini, this seems unlikely.
What features could the next HomePod have?
The original HomePod featured the A8 processor and this would be an area for improvement whenever its successor it arrives. It’ll more than likely have the U1 chip to enable the Ultra Wide Band (UWB) feature.
Apple’s interest in UWB is widely known and its integration allows iOS products to communicate with each other, transferring data from one product to another and offering more accurate location tracking. With the HomePod mini, for example, when it comes in close proximity to an iPhone, audio can be handed off quickly between the two. The HomePod 2 could act as a hub within the house much like the mini does, tying all the iOS devices in the home together.
Bloomberg first reported that Apple were looking to add additional music services to the HomePod line-up in 2020. Amazon Music and Pandora have been confirmed for the HomePod mini.
The original HomePod can recognise up to six members of a household. The mini can also do this and we don’t doubt the HomePod 2 would do the same. We also wonder if the automatic stereo pairing functionality will make its way to the HomePod 2. We imagine it would if you wanted to have left/right channels connected to a TV (or perhaps paired with an Apple TV box), although we can’t imagine how that would work specifically, so perhaps the feature would work for music only.
There’s also Intercom, which allows users to send messages from one iOS device to another, leaving notifications on the screen of an iPad or audio messages in a pair of headphones.
This, really, has become more of a wishlist after the news the full-sized HomePod has been retired. We’d like to think that Apple is thinking of a sequel given that the HomePod is one of the best sounding smart speakers on the market.