The HomePod is Apple’s high-end Siri-powered smart speaker, offering a premium audio experience and the ability to control smart home devices, respond to text messages and more, but it has had a troubled few years trying to compete with the cheaper, smarter options from Google and Amazon.
While it seemed Apple had been reinvigorated by the release of the HomePod Mini in 2020, the company confirmed in March 2021 that the standard HomePod was set to be discontinued. Does that mean Apple has stopped working on the HomePod 2 behind closed doors? While some assumed so, the rumour mill has kicked back into life in 2022.
With the possibility of a HomePod 2 still in the works, here’s all you need to know about the second-gen smart speaker right now.
When will the HomePod 2 be released?
While Apple tends to update its main product lines – Watch, iPhone, iPad and Mac – every year, the same can’t be said for its audio collection.
The AirPods, AirPods Pro and HomePod are on a different update schedule, with Apple waiting around 2.5 years to update its AirPods, and with the HomePod being a first-generation product, we don’t yet know how long Apple plans to wait between releases – especially given the discontinuation of the original in March 2021.
Recent rumblings suggest we could see a new smart speaker appear sometime in 2022, though with Apple’s March event and WWDC 2022 in the rear-view mirror, what’s more likely is a launch further down the line in late 2022.
That’d make sense considering the new HomePod is rumoured to feature the same chipset as the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8, due for release in September 2022 – but more on that later.
How much will the HomePod 2 cost?
The HomePod originally cost $349/£329 when it was released, and many criticised it for its high price tag. So much so that Apple permanently slashed the price of the HomePod to $299/£279 back in 2019, and it was often discounted at retailers, bringing it down to as little as $199/£199.
That’s a much more palatable price for a smart speaker, and more in line with the likes of the various Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant offerings, though the discontinuation means the price has gone through the roof.
It’s also encouraging to see the HomePod Mini come in at a competitive $99/£89. It’s still expensive compared to Amazon’s Echo Dot, but it does show that Apple is willing to compromise on pricing for its HomePod products.
It’s possible that we could see a cheaper standard HomePod 2 to replace the ultra-high-end original, hopefully in the region of competing smart speakers like the Amazon Echo Show.
Latest HomePod 2 rumours
There isn’t a whole lot to go on right now, but whispers do suggest that a new speaker is in the works behind closed doors at Apple Park.
The HomePod Mini is essentially a smaller, rounder version of the HomePod with the same material and general design language, and as such, we can’t really see Apple completely redesigning the second-generation HomePod.
It’d just look out of place alongside the original and the Mini, and if Apple truly wants the HomePod 2 to be a staple of the smart home, it’ll want to encourage using as many as possible in the home.
However, a fresh rumour from early 2022 suggests a redesign could be on the cards for the second-gen smart speaker – and it’s all down to Siri itself.
According to a Reddit post, Apple’s virtual assistant has been letting users know that the answers to their queries are “displayed on your HomePod”. Despite the Siri-esque animations on the touchscreen of the HomePod, it’s not a fully-fledged display.
In fact, it doesn’t fit with any HomePod to date.
This has led to rampant speculation that Apple is working on a second-gen HomePod with a built-in display, possibly in a similar vein to Amazon’s rotating Echo Show 10, a speaker/tablet hybrid.
In fact, that’s exactly what Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman suggests in a June 2022 edition of his Power On newsletter.
Per Gurman, Apple is allegedly working on a next-gen HomePod with the codename B620 that sports an updated display with some kind of multi-touch functionality. That’d line up with earlier Siri leaks, and would make the HomePod able to compete with smart display & speaker hybrids.
With new functionality comes more power, and Gurman suggests that’ll come in the form of the yet-unannounced Apple S8 SiP, the chipset that’ll allegedly power the Apple Watch Series 8 at release later this year.
For reference, the original HomePod sports the (practically ancient) iPhone-designed Apple A8, while the smaller HomePod mini switched to the same S5 SiP as the Apple Watch Series 5, so there are grounds for the move from A- to S-series chips.
Crucially, this won’t be the next HomePod mini. The Bloomberg reporter claims that the upcoming speaker is larger than its miniature sibling, and that should translate to much better sound quality and more powerful bass than the (impressive, not non-comparable) HomePod mini.
While yet to be confirmed, we’d also expect Apple’s U1 chipset to make an appearance, enabling Ultra Wide Band (UWB) functionality. Apple has been slowly integrating the U1 into its product line, now found in the iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple’s AirTags too.
The tech makes it easier for Apple devices to communicate, facilitating faster data transfer as well as more accurate location sharing. Take the HomePod Mini for example; using the U1 chip, it can detect when an iPhone is nearby and change audio output to the speaker, and vice-versa.
We’ll update this article as more information about the second-gen HomePod comes to light, so check back soon for the latest rumours and leaks.