Five years is a cold eternity in the realms of modern audio technology. But that’s how long it’s been since Apple announced its first smart speaker, the HomePod (June 5, 2017, to save you asking Siri).
I’ll nail my colors to the pole: the original is still sonically excellent. It’s open, detailed, organized on all frequencies and fills my home office with high quality music every day. The downside? It was (and still is) expensive, at $349/£319 at launch – a very different pricing strategy than Amazon’s affordable Echo range.
And worse than that, my beautiful HomePod was discontinued by Apple over a year ago despite the launch of Spatial Audio – something that never made it to the smaller, cheaper HomePod mini.
Yes, the newest and bijou product is still one of the best smart speakers you can buy today, thanks to its great sound, compact design, and great price, but as a huge fan of Spatial’s free (and soon to be customized) Apple Audio Update on Apple Music, I’m losing support.
To reiterate a colleague’s thoughts earlier this year, I’ve been craving a new and improved full-size HomePod – or HomePod 2 as we’ve come to call it – for some time now. And it seems my wish has been granted.
According to famous informant Mark Gurman in his latest Turn on (opens in new tab) newsletter, “The HomePod, codenamed B620, will run the same S8 chip that comes in the (new Apple) watches and will be closer to the original HomePod in terms of size and audio performance rather than a new HomePod mini.”
And there’s more! Gurman adds, “The new HomePod will have an updated display on top and there’s even been talk of multi-touch functionality.”
Opinion: When Apple looks for great sound, it rarely goes wrong
As a self-confessed audio geek (audiophile is still a word I avoid), I have long chastised Apple for refusing to make the standalone DACs or wired headphones to enjoy its own Lossless and Hi-Res Lossless quality. on Apple Music and instead enhancing its line of wireless AirPods, which include Bluetooth chipsets unable to support lossless playback.
Want an Apple-branded headset with Lossless support? Why, it’s the $30 wired EarPods – let me give you a tour.
Back to the matter at hand, and Tim Cook’s giant is apparently starting to care more about music quality – see also the new MacBook Air, with support for Spatial Audio and a high-impedance 3.5mm headphone jack. But a new full-size HomePod? This is how to get Spatial Audio singing. I truly believe the sky is the limit here.
The current orb of whirling light that lights up on my HomePod whenever I place a Siri order still fascinates me, years after I first saw it, and I can’t wait to see what Apple has in store to surpass it. Album art and track selection information? Highly probable. And the “multi-touch functionality” is even more of a teaser, suggesting waving across the screen to skip tracks rather than the touch-tap needed today.
But of course it’s the “similar size and audio performance” improved with this newer chipset that is most exciting. As an owner of both the HomePod mini and the original HomePod, I can say that the original outperforms its little brother, in every area except price.
Of course, this is the behemoth otherwise known as Apple, so order collection fees may still be unavoidable. But I’ll keep my eyes open and my ears to the ground as leaks begin to appear on the internet with ever-increasing urgency, as what Gurman predicts will be an “absent Fall 2022 and H1 2023” – including the AirPods Pro 2, so those who crave more thrills from Apple’s music.
For now, let’s wait…