Rumours have been swirling about a new HomePod 2/HomePod Mini smart speaker, and recent leaks suggest it could launch in August 2020.
There’s also been suggestions that Apple could release not one, but two HomePod speakers: one would be a full-sized replacement and the other a mini version that would act as competition against Amazon, Google and Sonos.
What would those speaker look like? And what features could they have? Here’s everything we know about the HomePod 2/HomePod Mini.
When will the HomePod 2/HomePod Mini be released?
The HomePod 2 – if announced – could be available in August 2020.
And that’s according to Apple leakers komiya_kj and iHacktu Pro, both of whom imply that Apple will be refreshing its online store on August 19th with three new products – and one of those slots will be for the HomePod 2 and HomePod Mini. We’d take that release with a pinch of salt, as the same leak suggested the new iMac would be released on the same day; but it appeared two weeks ahead of time.
According to a Bloomberg report, a HomePod Mini has been in development for months (perhaps even years) and delayed several times. Bloomberg doesn’t go into the reasons for its delay.
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How much will the HomePod 2 cost?
In early 2019, Apple reduced the HomePod by £50. That led to some to assert a new model was on its way, but if Apple is to make gains in the smart speaker market, the price should be similar to the HomePod’s current price: £199.
Compare that to Amazon’s Echo Studio (£190) and Google’s Home Max (£249), and the new HomePod would be much more competitive.
A price of around $150-$200 was mooted by MacRumours back in 2018, which seems like it’d be perfect for a HomePod Mini…
What will the HomePod 2/HomePod Mini look like?
Several reports since 2018 have suggested the new speaker won’t be a full-fledged HomePod 2, but a HomePod Mini that’s half the size of the original. If the recent leak of Apple’s product schedule is true – and it could change – then Apple could be launching both a full-sized HomePod and an HomePod Mini.
This reduction in size is said to be a response to Amazon and Google. The change in size would make sense in terms of price, but it could also impact sound quality, which is the HomePod’s best feature.
Other potential design notes include a patent that revealed Apple is looking to fuse the controls into the design, so that and that they become a part of the fabric and light up when needed.
Apple also lodged a patent back in 2017, regarding gesture controls for a speaker. If it’s smaller, then perhaps there’s no need for physical buttons. There have also been rumours of Face ID integration, too.
What features would we like to see in the HomePod 2?
Mid-July saw an update for the HomePod. No new features were added as the update mainly focused on “general improvements for stability and quality”.
It at least shows that the HomePod is still in Apple’s minds. In terms of features, we don’t know what the HomePod 2/HomePod Mini could have up its sleeve. But we have a wishlist of improvements.
It’d be nice if the support for Bluetooth 5.0 could be used for more than just device setup and connecting to other devices.
Given the HomePod uses the A8 chip from 2014, a new speaker gives Apple the chance to future-proof it for the next few years. There’s no means of connecting the speaker to another device via digital or analogue inputs, which would grant the speaker more flexibility.
The HomePod only works with Apple Music, but that seems stingy in 2020. You can connect via AirPlay 2, but integration of Spotify, Tidal or Pandora would be more attractive. Bloomberg has reported that Apple is looking to add additional music services.
Apple has been acquiring plenty of AI startups, so perhaps we’ll see the fruits of their labour with Siri. Especially as the Cupertino-based company is thought to be revamping its smart home services.
The overall ‘smart’ aspect of the speaker could be improved too. Siri isn’t supported by Amazon Ring or Google Nest. HomeKit isn’t supported by as many devices either and considering how popular they are, that detracts from the HomePod’s value.