The Apple HomePod is two years old, and the best-sounding smart speaker available. However, success has been hard to come by for Apple; the HomePod hasn’t sold in line with the company’s initial expectations.
A new HomePod could rectify this and reports suggest one is on the way. It could be a fully fledged HomePod 2 or HomePod Mini.
Here’s what we know about the HomePod 2/HomePod Mini.
Apple HomePod 2 release date
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed several 2020 launches, but it is expected the HomePod 2 will be made available in the second half of this year.
According to a report in Bloomberg, the HomePod Mini has been in development for several months and delayed, the reasons for which the report doesn’t mention.
There have been many reports since the HomePod’s launch, some of which appear to conflict with one another: could Apple launch a HomePod 2 alongside a smaller HomePod Mini?
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Apple HomePod 2 price
Apple reduced the HomePod’s price in 2019 by £50, which led some to speculate that a new model was coming. That didn’t materialise, but if Apple is to learn from its mistakes then with any new model of HomePod the company launches, the price needs to come down.
The Amazon Echo Studio costs £190. The Google Home Max can now be had for £249. Neither sound quite as good as the original HomePod. Considering they offer greater flexibility than a HomePod, a new Apple smart speaker would be best priced in the £200 region.
That’s the suggested price for a new HomePod, but it isn’t clear whether that would be for a HomePod Mini or HomePod 2. We’d expect a full-sized HomePod that could compete with the Echo Studio for that price.
Apple HomePod 2 design
Some reports point towards the HomePod 2 being a HomePod Mini, which would be half the size of the original.
The original is already comparatively small compared to other such devices, with this further reduction said to be in response to Amazon and Google’s smaller speakers that are available at a more affordable price. However, a more compact design would mean less space for speaker drivers, so the audio quality could suffer as a result.
The form factor is thought to be the same, and we’d imagine the overall aesthetic will remain similar, with its sealed mesh fabric design and touch capacitive buttons. A patent has suggested Apple is looking to merge the two, with invisible controls that are part of the fabric and light up when needed.
There’s no word on the chip that will be used. We’d assume it would be one of Apple’s more recent processors, given the original HomePod houses an A8 chip. If Apple still views the HomePod as a device capable of playing music, device integration and smart home compatibility, it arguably needs to include a chip fast enough to future-proof the unit.
Another element of the current design requires a rethink is the capacitive power cable. If the cable becomes damaged then the whole speaker needs to be sent back. That isn’t ideal.
Apple HomePod 2 features
Not only was the price of the original HomePad a letdown, but the feature set too. There are a number of improvements we’d like to see come to fruition in a new HomePod.
Apple runs a walled garden with regards to which devices it plays nice with, and while that’s unlikely to change, wishful thinking would be that Bluetooth 5.0 could be used for more than just device setup.
There are also no digital or analogue inputs, so no means of using the HomePod as an output through physical cables. Adding the former would allow more flexible use of the speaker.
Continuing the theme, the HomePod is designed to work with Apple Music. Other music streaming services only work through AirPlay 2, and embedding the likes of Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz would create wider choice and cement the HomePod’s place as an audiophile speaker. Bloomberg reported that Apple is looking to add additional music services, so perhaps this isn’t a pie-in-the-sky option.
Apple has been acquiring AI startups left, right and centre to improve Siri, which has lagged behind competing services. In the same Bloomberg report, the Cupertino company is also said to be revamping its smart home services.
Siri isn’t supported by Amazon’s Ring or Google’s Nest, and while there’s certainly some rival politics in that, it does mean Siri isn’t integrated into two of the largest smart systems. HomeKit isn’t supported by as many devices, either. Both could use improvements in that regard that would help future HomePods.
Gesture controls are thought to be of consideration in the HomePod 2. This would make sense if Apple was aiming to bring in an alternative to touch capacitive controls. There have been rumours of Face ID integration, too; some believed this would go on sale in 2019, but that didn’t happen.
There’s very much a cloak of secrecy surrounding the new HomePod. We’ll keep updating this article as we hear more information about a HomePod 2.