Apple HomePod speaker upgrade, Siri Smarts for $299

Apple announced HomePod second generation on Wednesday, nearly two years after it discontinued its first smart speaker, the HomePod. The new version is a full-size speaker with improved acoustics and smart home capabilities compared to a speaker HomePod Mini. Both of Apple’s smart speakers rely on Siri, the company’s voice assistant, to play music and perform voice commands.

Simply called the HomePod, the new speaker is Now for pre-order at the Apple Store It retails for $299 and will be available onriday,ebruary 3.

Although the design resembles the original HomePod full-size speaker that was discontinued in 2021, the new HomePod is said to offer a handful of major upgrades. Inside are a dedicated tweeter and five tweeters that use a beam configuration to direct sound and improve immersion, according to Apple. You can link two HomePod speakers to create a stereo pair, though doing so requires two HomePods of the same model (you can’t combine an original HomePod with a new one to create a pair, for example). Multiple HomePods around the home can be linked for multi-room audio using AirPlay 2.

It also supports loudspeaker spatial soundApple’s term for the 360-degree effects that include Dolby Atmos music available on Apple TV Apple Music. Atmos is a surround sound standard used in both movie theaters and at home, and has recently been used to remix albums.

Apple HomePod speaker in all-encompassing view

Inside the Apple HomePod, the high-frequency bass-EQ internal speaker microphone, and the five-woofer speaker array, are visible.

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The soundbar has a couple of new smart home accessories up its sleeve, too. A feature called Intelligent Recognition, coming through this spring’s spftware update, “can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and send a notification directly to the user’s iPhone if a voice is recognized,” according to Apple. The soundbar also has temperature and humidity sensors, and users can set up triggers to automatically close curtains or turn on a fan when a room reaches a certain temperature.

In addition to support HomeKit from AppleHomePod also supports the new version matter standardIt is an open source protocol that works with many smart home devices.

Apple HomePod speaker next to iPhone.

Placing your iPhone close to your HomePod lets you hand songs, voice calls, and more to the speaker.

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Users can bring their iPhone close to the speaker to deliver everything that’s playing, from a song to a podcast to a voice call, to the speaker (this feature requires iOS 16.3). The phone will also display personalized suggestions for songs and podcasts when the user places them near the speaker. The HomePod supports Apple’sind My feature, so you can ask Siri to play a sound on a misplaced device, or request the location of friends or family who share via theind My app.

It was rumored that Apple is working on a The speaker is called HomePod 2. At least since June 2022. The company has only released three other speakers in the past 20 years — the iPod Hi-Fi, the original $350 Apple HomePod, and the $99 Apple HomePod. HomePod miniwhich is still on sale for $99.

The $299 HomePod will compete with high-end smart speakers like Amazon Echo Studio And Sonos one, and both cost $200. Meanwhile, the current HomePod mini is competitively priced Google’s largest Nest Audio devicethough it’s been undercut by the $49 Google Nest Mini and most Amazon Echo models.

Apple’s digital assistant Siri may be dominant in the mobile space, but the company has struggled to translate that success into smart speakers. In terms of smart speakers, it’s Amazon’s Echo series and Google Nest speakers that jostle for the first and second places.

We look forward to reviewing the new Apple HomePod soon.