With the first generation of the Homepod, Apple set new standards for smart speakers. After years of waiting, the group has now presented the successor. And he brings along some clever new ideas.

When Apple launched its first smart speaker in 2018, the hype surrounding Alexa and Co. was at its peak. Nevertheless, Apple’s Homepod stood out from the crowd: It was more stylish, sounded better – and cost a lot more than its competitors. After the large model was discontinued two years ago, the group has now surprisingly presented a successor.

The second generation Homepod hardly differs visually from its predecessor. As with the last model, the rounded body is encased in a chic mesh net, and a large digital display is emblazoned at the top. The most important visual change: instead of space gray, the dark model is now in Apple’s bluish black tone Midnight, which also adorns the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Old design, new sound

Inside it looks a bit different. Apple promises a significantly revised sound, but primarily relies on software improvements. On the hardware side, a four-inch woofer and five smaller tweeters ensure the right sound. The tweeters are arranged around the lower edge of the Homepod, so they should use the floor as a sound amplifier.

The most important possibility of this design is the so-called “Beam-Forming”. Like its predecessor, the Homepod recognizes the environment and adjusts the sound accordingly. If it is placed near a wall, the bass would actually be overemphasized by the reflections. To compensate for this, the Homepod sends the sound of its tweeters away from the wall, towards the listener. This is to guarantee a balanced sound regardless of the location. Compared to the old model, the software should work even better. The Spatial Audio room effect should also sound even more differentiated with a single loudspeaker. Only a test can show how well this works.

Also in stereo or as a sound system

However, Homepods get even better if you own more than one. If you pair two or more Homepods, they automatically recognize each other’s location and work together. Not only do they automatically separate the stereo track, they also further adjust the sound based on distance and location. Alternatively, the speakers can also be used as a multiroom system.

As with the first homepod, the speaker also works together with the AppleTV and becomes a home cinema speaker together with the streaming box. Two Homepods then even enable surround sound according to the Dolby Atmos standard, as long as the media used support it.

Smart home even smarter

The new Homepod also has a lot to offer on the smart home side. Of course, he relies on Siri for this. Apple’s language assistant can not only play music and answer questions. Using the “Where Is” app, she can also search for her own iPhone and ping it with an audio signal. Good: Siri recognizes up to six different voices and adapts the requests accordingly – so look for the right iPhone or choose personal calendars for reminders. The smart home control supports the modern Matter standard, and Apple’s Homekit is also still on board.

Completely new is the degree to which the Homepod is aware of its surroundings. The speaker not only has an internal temperature sensor that plays a role in calculating the sound. It can also record room temperature and humidity with new sensors. And with the appropriate smart home accessories, you can also control the heating or an air humidifier or dehumidifier according to your own preferences.

It can even do something for security: Using its microphones, the Homepod automatically recognizes the signals from alarm systems and smoke detectors – and informs the owner of the emergency message via iPhone.

The new Homepod will be available in white and midnight from February 3rd. It costs 349 euros.