The 2023 Second-Generation HomePod
Apple in January 2023 introduced a second-generation HomePod, with the speaker coming approximately two years after the original HomePod was discontinued. The second-generation HomePod looks similar to the original and has the same $299 price tag, but it includes new features that make it a more worthwhile purchase.
Available in white and midnight color options, the HomePod features a compact, round design and it is covered in a 3D mesh fabric selected for its acoustic properties. Compared to the original HomePod, the second-generation model is the same width, but just a bit shorter (0.2 inches).
There is an interactive touch screen at the top of the HomePod that supports music playback gestures and lets you know when Siri has been activated and is listening to a command. Siri does not actively monitor what's being said in the room until the magic words are spoken, and all communication between Siri and Apple's servers is anonymous and encrypted.
Sound quality is Apple's main focus with the larger HomePod, though it also serves as a home hub for HomeKit and Matter. It includes a five-tweeter array with each tweeter outfitted with its own driver, and an Apple-designed 4-inch high-excursion woofer for crisp, clear, distortion free sound even at loud volumes. It has fewer tweeters than the prior-generation model, and there is a four-microphone design for use with Siri, two fewer microphones than before.
An S7 chip first used in the Apple Watch Series 7 powers the HomePod, and it uses spatial awareness, room sensing and advanced computational audio to adjust the music in real time for the environment it is in. The HomePod supports Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for music and video, for sound that seems to come from all around you.
Apple says that the HomePod is able to offer rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies, with directional control enabled through the tweeters.
The HomePod integrates with Apple Music and features built-in Siri support, but it is also compatible with third-party music services that have added HomePod support. Two HomePods can be paired together for stereo support, but the second-generation HomePod cannot be paired with the original model in this way. HomePod also works with the Apple TV 4K and can be used as an Apple TV speaker system and its connected peripherals using eARC.
With HomeKit and AirPlay 2 integration, the HomePod can be accessed in the Home app and paired with other AirPlay 2 speakers for multiroom audio. HomePod does not work as a standard Bluetooth speaker so while it can be used standalone as it is a smart speaker, it cannot be used with non-Apple devices for playing content over Bluetooth.
The HomePod works with all prior speaker features Apple has implemented, recognizing the voices of multiple users, offering Handoff to iOS devices, and playing ambient sounds like rainfall for background noise. HomePod 2 is also able to serve as an Intercom that allows messages to be sent to different rooms of the house. Features like Handoff are enabled through the included U1 chip.
A Find My feature allows the HomePod to be used to locate Apple devices like an iPhone or AirPods by playing a sound on the device, and Siri can also provide the location of friends and family members that have shared location details with the HomePod user. Sound Recognition capabilities allow the HomePod to listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, sending the user a notification.
Temperature and humidity sensors can be used to measure the indoor environment, allowing those metrics to be used in smart home automations with HomeKit devices. The HomePod also supports Matter and serves as a hub for connecting Matter devices and controlling them when away from home.
Apple's HomePod is priced at $299, which is the same price that the prior-generation version was selling for before it was discontinued. It is set to launch on February 3.
To further speaker market penetration and to provide an additional price point, Apple also has a smaller and cheaper $99 version of the HomePod called the HomePod mini. For further details, please see our HomePod mini roundup.
How to Buy
The second-generation HomePod can be ordered from Apple's online store, and it will be available in retail locations on February 3, which is also the day that the first orders will arrive to customers.
The second-generation HomePod looks almost identical to the discontinued original model. It features a cylindrical body with a flat top that is outfitted with a touchscreen display offering built-in touch controls to play/pause music and adjust the volume.
A Siri waveform is displayed at the top of the display when Siri is activated so it is clear when the voice assistant is listening, and it is worth noting that the integrated touchscreen is larger than the version used for the original HomePod. It supports a wider array of color options to reflect different functions and statuses.
Measuring in at 6.6 inches (168 mm) tall and 5.6 inches (142 mm) wide, the HomePod is just 0.2 inches shorter than the prior model. It weighs 5.16 pounds (2.3 kg), so it is slightly lighter as well. The HomePod 2 comes in white or midnight, a new color option that replaces the similar space gray, and aside from the mesh fabric and the waveform display at the top, there are no other external markings on the speaker.
There is a removable power cable at the back of the HomePod, which is easier to pull out than the cable used for the first-generation model.
Supported Touch Gestures
The HomePod supports several gestures using the aforementioned touch controls at the top of the device. A tap pauses/plays music, while a double tap swaps to the next track. You can go back to the previous track with a triple tap, and a touch and hold brings up Siri (with a visible waveform to indicate when Siri is listening).
A tap or a tap and hold on the "+" button raises the volume, and a tap or a tap and hold on the "-" button lowers the volume.
HomePod is filled with hardware dedicated to providing the best possible sound. At the bottom, there's a custom five beamforming tweeter array, each with its own individual driver, and Apple says they work together to achieve a "powerful acoustic experience."
There's a custom-engineered high-excursion woofer, a motor that drives the diaphragm 20mm to move more air, and a built-in bass EQ mic that allows for automatic bass correction to prevent distortion. Apple says that the second-generation HomePod is able to provide "rich, deep bass and stunning high frequencies."
A four-microphone array allows the HomePod to hear spoken Siri commands even when loud music is playing, and the included S7 system-on-a-chip improves sound quality through computational audio. The S7 was first used in the Apple Watch, and it replaces the A8 chip that was in the prior version of the HomePod.
HomePod 2 uses spatial awareness to intelligently detect the room around itself, automatically adjusting and balancing audio to take full advantage of its environment to fill a room with sound regardless of where it's placed. According to Apple, HomePod also uses an advanced algorithm to continually analyze what's playing, dynamically tuning low frequencies for smooth sound.
Two HomePods are able to work together as a stereo pair for an even richer sound, though it's worth noting that the second-generation HomePod does not pair with either the original HomePod or the HomePod mini. A set of stereo-paired HomePods can be set as the default sound option for a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, with the duo showing as a single selectable speaker.
With multiple HomePods or AirPlay-enabled speakers in different rooms in a home, the AirPlay 2 protocol can be used to control audio in every area of the house.
HomePod supports the following audio sources: Apple Music, iTunes music purchases, iCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription, Third-party music services, Apple Music Radio or episodes on demand, Radio stations from TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audacy, Apple Podcasts, News briefings, Remastered ambient sounds, and AirPlay to share other content to HomePod from iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac. It does not work with Bluetooth.
HomePod supports Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, allowing HomePod owners to listen to specially designed Spatial Audio tracks, which are available through Apple Music and other services.
Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos is designed to provide an immersive, multidimensional audio experience that allows artists to mix music in a way that makes it sound like the notes are coming from all around you.
Spatial audio applies directional audio filters and subtly adjusts the frequencies that each ear receives to place sounds virtually anywhere in space for an immersive listening experience.
Apple Music automatically play Dolby Atmos on the second-generation HomePod.
Siri is a key part of HomePod, with the voice assistant serving as the main way to control the speaker. Siri is activated through a "Hey Siri" command, and can do many of the functions available on other devices like the iPhone.
Siri can make music recommendations based on personal tastes, aiding in music discovery, and the assistant can make note of what a user likes. Questions and commands that work with Siri on HomePod include "Play more songs like this," "Play something new," "Who's singing?" and "Play more like that." A sample of music-related Siri commands is available in the image above, shown on stage at the WWDC keynote. Siri is able to play content from your iCloud Music Library, Apple Music, or iTunes purchases.
Siri is also built to be a home assistant. Siri isn't limited to music and can answer queries around a wide range of topics, doing things like sending messages, making phone calls, setting multiple timers, offering weather updates, making calendar appointments, and more. Siri can answer queries from any person in the house, with Siri functionality not limited to a single user, and Siri can recognize different voices.
HomePod supports speakerphone functionality and is able to serve as a speaker and a microphone for a voice-based call. Anyone in the home can start a call on their iPhone and then switch it over to the HomePod using Handoff.
When Siri is activated, the top of the HomePod will light up and display a waveform, plus Siri will provide audio feedback. For HomeKit commands that do not provide a visual response (like a thermostat), Siri will also play a confirmation tone to affirm that a request was heard and acted on.
Smart Home Functionality
Like the original HomePod and HomePod mini, the second-generation HomePod works as a home hub, enabling remote access for HomeKit devices so they can be accessed when you're away from home.
The second-generation HomePod is also a Matter hub, which allows it to work with Matter-enabled accessories. Matter is a smart home standard that is designed to work across different platforms, and it is an alternative to HomeKit that functions in the same way.
Smart home devices that work through Matter or HomeKit can be controlled on the HomePod using Siri commands.
Sensors and Connectivity
There are several new sensors in the second-generation HomePod that allow for improvements to smart home functionality.
Temperature and Humidity
Built-in temperature and humidity sensors in the HomePod allow it to detect the conditions of the room that it is in. These metrics can be used in automations that activate HomeKit or Matter devices.
A HomePod can, for example, detect the humidity in the room and then activate a dehumidifier, or sense the temperature and turn on the thermostat.
Sound Recognition sensors allow the HomePod to listen for fire and carbon monoxide alarms, sending an alert in an emergency situation.
There is an accelerometer in the HomePod, which is new. The accelerometer is able to adjust the sound of the HomePod in real-time if it is moved to a new location in the room.
WiFi and Bluetooth
The HomePod supports 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0.
There are a number of other functions that the HomePod is able to perform, thanks to the sensors and hardware in the device.
- Intercom - The HomePod can be used for household communication through Siri commands. Any Apple device can be used to send a message to a HomePod that is in another room of the house, for room-to-room communication.
- Doorbell announcements - With HomeKit connected doorbells, Siri on HomePod can announce when someone is at the door.
- Handoff - An Apple Music song playing on HomePod can be handed off to an iPhone, and vice versa. With the U1 chip in the HomePod, the iPhone just needs to be brought close to the speaker, and the song will transfer over.
- eARC - HomePod can pair with the Apple TV 4K, and with eARC, can be used as the speaker system for all connected peripherals.
- Find My - With Find My integration, HomePod can be used to play a sound on nearby Apple devices, and Siri can also be used to provide the location of friends and family who share their location with the HomePod owner.
- Ambient Sounds - Apple remastered ambient sounds like ocean, forest, and rain to make them sound better, plus they can be added to scenes, automations, and alarms.
Apple provides regular updates for the HomePod, much like it does for iOS devices, Macs, the Apple TV, and the Apple Watch. Software updates are released alongside iOS software updates and can be installed using the Home app on the iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
HomePod How Tos
If you're new to the HomePod, or just looking to get the most out of your HomePod, make sure to check out all of the HomePod how tos we've shared.
- How to Use the Temperature and Humidity Sensors on HomePod and HomePod Mini
- How to Create Recurring Automations on HomePod Using Your Voice
What's Next for the HomePod Lineup
According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple is "developing new speakers with screens and cameras." The report indicates that Apple could be at least exploring the idea of new HomePod models with a display and camera to compete with the likes of Google's Nest Hub Max, Amazon's Echo Show, and Facebook's Portal. Apple's camera-equipped HomePod would presumably offer similar functionality to existing competitors with features such as FaceTime video calling and HomeKit integration if it ever comes to market
Apple is also believed to be working on an Apple TV that is combined with a HomePod smart speaker, according to Gurman. The set-top box would include a camera for FaceTime on a TV and "other smart-home functions," but it is still in the early stages of development so Apple's plans could change.