Apple has recently released the ‘HomePod 2nd generation’ – an updated version of the original HomePod smart speaker that was released five years ago and disappeared soon after. In more recent years, the only version of the HomePod available has been its smaller iteration called the HomePod mini. However, although the HomePod looks almost identical to the original product there are new features to get excited about.
Unboxing and set up
The unboxing experience for the HomePod is relatively minimalistic, although aesthetically pleasing, as are all Apple product unboxings. You open the box to reveal the surprisingly hefty 7 inch tall HomePod, a power cable and some quick start documents. Once you connect its cable and plug in the HomePod you’ll need an iPhone or iPad connected to Wi-Fi and bluetooth to set up and use the speaker. To be clear, this speaker is only compatible with iPhone or iPad (not Android) and to get started you’ll need to hold your iPhone or iPad close to the HomePod.
Next, a ‘set up’ option should pop up on your screen. Once completed, there are a multitude of ways you can then start music playback on the HomePod. The most common way is to say “Hey Siri … play X” and from there on you can also control the music through your iPad or iPhone or use tap gestures on the top of the speaker.
The top of the speaker has an interactive display, which now illuminates from edge to edge when communicating with Siri, when previously it only lit up about 50 per cent of the surface. It’s a simple tweak but it makes the HomePod look extra pretty.
The speaker works best with Apple Music, especially if you want to ask your HomePod (ie. Siri) to make you a custom playlist, or to “play current, popular songs”. Though, good news, you can absolutely play music and content through different streaming platforms on the HomePod, though it’s not always as seamless.
You can also ask your HomePod to set an alarm, set reminders, get personalised updates about the weather or your commute times. And you can even check in on your calendar’s schedule if you use Apple’s calendar app.
The HomePod also supports stereo pairing, meaning you could sync an additional HomePod to enhance your audio experience. You can even connect them to your Apple TV to use them as your TV’s speakers for a cinematic experience.
Additionally, the HomePod is also Matter certified to work with Matter enabled accessories, such as smart lights.
Design and sound quality
The HomePod looks similar to the original, although the internals are different. It’s a refined speaker which offers excellent audio detail, clarity and layering.
As there’s a high excursion woofer, located at the top of the speaker, the HomePod has powerful sound and impressive bass. And along with Apple Silicon, advanced software and its built-in mics the HomePod is also able to adjust its acoustics in real time, based on where it’s placed in the room and, subsequently, the sound reflections off of walls and the objects in your room.
I noticed that on low volumes, especially when listening to Spatial Audio tracks, vocals were insanely clear, and you could still distinguish different instruments.
Music playback doesn’t just “blend together” like with cheaper speakers, there’s nuance. If you’re used to using $200 (or less) portable speakers, when using a HomePod you’ll notice there’s a notable difference in the sound quality.
It’s hard to explain as I’m not an audiophile, but the music feels more immersive, and leans towards the sound of what it’s like to hear music live. The audio is premium. But I must note, it’s not a portable speaker. It’s made to be a statement audio piece that can be placed in any room in the house, without any complications of setting up a sound system.
It’s said that in an upcoming software update the HomePod will have temperature and humidity sensing, so you can detect your indoor climate. Additionally, HomePod will be able to listen for smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms and alert you on your iPhone if they go off, which is helpful if you’re away from home.
The HomePod offers a great combination of impressive audio quality and smart home capabilities. Compared to the much cheaper HomePod mini, I’d recommend going bigger and more expensive with the HomePod 2nd Generation if you’re wanting a powerful home speaker capable of being used for entertaining and filling larger rooms.
Additionally, the HomePod can also be paired with the HomePod mini and vice versa to play music across your entire home.
If you’re already immersed in the Apple ecosystem and seeking excellent sound, the HomePod is available now for $479 and comes in two colours, white or midnight.
Elly Awesome is an Aussie tech and lifestyle vlogger | @ellyawesometech | YouTube