Apple announces HomePod 2nd gen smart speaker with Matter support

Apple HomePod 2nd gen with iPhone

In a surprise announcement overnight, Apple revealed the HomePod 2nd gen smart speaker, after seemingly abandoning the larger device in favour of the HomePod Mini. It continues an announcement-packed week from the major tech company, after showing off the 2023 MacBook Pro range, a new Mac Mini desktop device, and the powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max chips.

Powered by the S7 chip found in Apple Watch Series 7 devices, the 2023 HomePod supports advanced features like Spatial Audio, smart home automations, and room-sensing technology to adapt its audio in real time. As per usual, Apple’s everlasting smart assistant Siri is baked into the speaker’s design.

What does the HomePod 2nd gen do?

As a smart speaker, one of the new HomePod’s primary functions is to play music. A series of components power its audio, including a custom high-excursion woofer, a built-in bass-EQ mic, a beamforming array of five tweeters, and a motor capable of driving its diaphragm 20mm.

Similar to some other smart speakers on the market, the HomePod 2nd gen’s room-sensing technology determines its location, adapting the audio accordingly. For example, it picks up reflected sounds from nearby surfaces to identify if it’s against a wall or out in the open. From here, the directional control of the tweeter array ensures you can clearly hear a song’s vocals and instruments based on the speaker’s location.

Apple HomePod 2nd gen internals
An internal look at what drives the HomePod 2nd gen

For more audio customisation, you can pair two or more HomePods or HomePods Mini together. This enables multiple configurations, including a stereo speaker setup with your Apple TV 4K, or a synchronised multi-room experience. By activating Siri or using the touch controls located on the top of the device, you can play the same song on multiple speakers, or different songs, or use its intercom functionality.

If your household has multiple Apple devices, accessing the new HomePod is easy. You can seamlessly play iPhone audio on the smart speaker using Ultra Wideband technology. This includes songs, podcasts and phone calls, giving you plenty of options. By bringing your iPhone close to the speaker, it will automatically give you suggestions, including personalised song recommendations. Additionally, the HomePod 2nd gen recognises up to six voices, making it easy for household members to access personalised features via Siri.

A smarter HomePod

Apple’s HomePod 2nd gen supports the Matter smart home protocol, meaning it can seamlessly connect to and control devices from other brands that also support Matter. This includes many of the smart devices announced at CES 2023, with interoperability a big focus of this year’s tech trade show.

Capable of being a smart home hub, the HomePod 2nd gen supports automated routines that activate multiple devices simultaneously, like a morning automation that plays an alarm, opens the blinds, and adjusts the temperature to help you wake up. All of this can be set to activate via Siri voice commands, and Apple’s redesigned Home app gives you more granular smart home control.

Other nifty smart features include the HomePod’s new temperature and humidity sensor, allowing you to set climate-control automations like activating a fan when it gets warm. Plus, the smart speaker’s Sound Recognition feature picks up smoke alarms, resulting in an iPhone notification, which could come in handy if you’re not home and need to act.

Availability, pricing, and compatibility

Available in two colours, the HomePod 2nd gen comes in white, plus a new midnight design made from 100% recycled mesh fabric along with a woven power cable in the same shade. It’s available to pre-order now for $479, ready for a 3 February release.

Before you rush out to secure one, here are the Apple devices compatible with the 2023 HomePod:

  • iPhones running iOS 16.3 and later
    • iPhone SE 2nd gen and later
    • iPhone 8 and later on iOS 16.3
  • iPads running iPadOS 16.3 and later
    • iPad Pro and later
    • iPad 5th gen and later
    • iPad Air 3rd gen and later
    • iPad Mini 5th gen and later

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