The HomePod (2nd-gen) comes practically 5 years after the unique and, whereas the design hasn’t modified, it does herald some large new options. Consider the second-generation HomePod extra as a much-needed refresh, relatively than an all-out model new good speaker.
It’s nonetheless very a lot speaker first, and good speaker second. However the addition of Thread implies that this Matter-enabled HomePod could be a centerpiece of the rejuvenated good dwelling over the subsequent couple of years.
Ensure you learn our information to Matter to grasp all of the complexities.
We’ve spent a few months dwelling with the Apple HomePod 2. Right here’s our thought of take…
Apple HomePod 2 worth
Apple’s newest HomePod has entered the market at £299/$299, surprisingly undercutting its 2018 predecessor’s debut worth.
If you happen to’re studying this due to Matter, know that the $99/£99 Apple HomePod Mini can be a Thread border router, and can allow you to construct out a Matter-powered good dwelling for much less.
The HomePod prices greater than alternate options reminiscent of Amazon’s Echo Studio (£190/$200) or the Sonos One (£199 / $219). Nevertheless it’s nonetheless an reasonably priced machine, and delivers a good quantity of audio bang for the buck.
Sonos has fired again at Apple by releasing the Period 300 (£449 / $449) which wins on sound and can help spatial audio on each Apple Music and Amazon Music – however prices considerably extra.
Apple HomePod 2: Have to know
When it comes to the design, the 2nd-gen HomePod is an identical to its predecessor. It’s a compact speaker, that’s only a tad greater than a Sonos One.
Externally, the HomePod appears to be like an identical to the unique – the identical material mesh outer and touch-enabled prime. The one variations are the 0.2-inch drop in top and a slight weight reduction, with it going from 5.5lbs to five.16lbs.
There’s the identical touch-enabled prime, with quantity management and pause/play. Nevertheless it’s not a display regardless of the Siri swirl animation and doesn’t present knowledge or playback info. There are a collection of contact controls, very like the AirPods, with double or triple faucets skipping music ahead or backward.
Simply say “Hey Siri” and you may see it gentle up with a colourful swirl, much like what you see if you happen to name up Apple’s digital assistant on an iPhone.
The primary signal of life on this contact panel (which might get a bit smudgy if you happen to contact it loads) is a white swirling gentle throughout setup mode. That’ll final for about 10 seconds, then you definately’ll hear a noise indicating your HomePod is prepared for pairing.
Pairing this factor is a breeze – simply put your iPhone close to it and also you’re executed. It will switch over all of your Apple account particulars, your own home Wi-Fi particulars, the entire shebang. You will be asking Siri to play music inside two minutes of plugging it in.
The brand new HomePod nonetheless helps iOS solely with AirPlay the primary choice for playback with out Siri. There’s no Bluetooth or Spotify Join. So it’s actually for households which can be all-in with iPhones, and finest used with Apple Music.
You continue to can’t ask Siri to play from non-Apple Music apps, as there is not any choice for altering the default music service, like you may with Alexa. So you may must play to the machine from inside these apps, which type of negates the advantage of a wise speaker.
You do have entry to all the foremost streaming companies and radio stations by way of AirPlay although – and that features Spotify playback in your HomePod.
Each the HomePod Mini and HomePod – the unique and the second-gen model – can do all the things that every other common AirPlay speaker does. So, in case your favourite streaming app is on iOS and has an AirPlay choice, then you may beam over your tunes by way of your iPhone or iPad.
You will discover no aux-in port on the HomePod and, though Bluetooth is inbuilt, that is solely there for setup; HomePod just isn’t a Bluetooth speaker. There are Android workarounds as soon as setup is completed, however they’re actually not price it.
The speaker array has additionally modified barely. The HomePod 2 includes a four-inch woofer paired with 5 tweeters, which is down from the seven tweeters discovered within the unique HomePod.
New options as a look
- Temperature sensor
- Humidity sensor
- Thread powered Matter compatibiltity
- Tweaked speaker array with 4 tweeters and a 4-inch sub-woofer
- U1 chip
Audio and spatial
If you happen to’re right here for sound high quality then you definately’ll be impressed. The HomePod punches properly above its dimension for sound and energy – and is surprisingly bassy.
To some, the speaker may very well ship an excessive amount of low-end punch, particularly in smaller rooms, however there’s a setting to cut back bass if wanted.
It definitely works properly in a bigger room, and within the nook of our loft room, we might have required the low bass setting. Nevertheless, our private style is bass-heavy, with lots of reggae and dub on rotation, so it suited us simply wonderful.
Our HomePod lived alongside our Alexa-fired Sonos One, and it blows the One out of the water on sound high quality. There’s actually no competitors, even when listening to the radio, the sound is deeper, hotter, and punchier.
The Sonos Period 300 is a distinct story and might be the one good speaker that may outstrip the HomePod as a standalone Spatial Audio speaker.
Nevertheless, the substantial worth enhance means you might seize a pair of HomePods at the same worth, and we’ll come onto why you would possibly try this shortly.
The USP of the HomePod, when paired with Apple Music is Spatial Audio. These are tracks which can be combined in Dolby Atmos for a extra ‘immersive’ sound, which ought to go away you with the impression of the band enjoying round you.
Some spatial mixes are spine-tinglingly glorious, some not a lot. However when it’s executed proper, it’s a recreation changer. And we a lot desire the impact on HomePod, which might carry tracks to life, relatively than on AirPods, the place the head-tracking type of ruins the expertise.
New tracks usually tend to have a good Spatial Audio therapy than older ones. The Narcissist by Blur advantages from the separation of the lead and backing vocals.
Nonetheless, Easy Man by Lynyrd Skynrd reveals off the deftness of the HomePod’s tone on the excessive hat, whereas additionally delivering on the guitar and bass as properly. We frequently use ‘well-rounded sound’ to specific an evenness between all ends of the spectrum, however none excel. The HomePod delivers each, and there’s no actual space for criticism.
Critics of Spatial liken it to the faux encompass impact on 90s stereos, and there are definitely examples of that inside the catalog. However Spatial could make you sit up and take discover, and the HomePod delivers this expertise in spades. And given it’s accessible for no additional price on Apple Music, we’re large followers.
Away from Dolby Atmos, the HomePod additionally helps lossless playback in Apple Music, (24-bit/48kHz) which additionally sounds fabulous, whether or not you play to the HomePod through your iPhone, or ask Siri for music immediately.
On the multi-room entrance, there’s nothing to arrange as such – you may simply see the HomePods displaying up within the AirPlay speaker checklist in your iOS machine or Mac, and simply choose as many as you might want to get music pumping round your own home.
Good dwelling expertise and Matter
Good audio system are after all a key part of the good dwelling – which is the place The Ambient involves play.
The HomePod (2nd Gen) is Matter suitable, and it’s additionally a Thread border router for seamless and speedy management of good dwelling gadgets that help the usual. That is the stuff you’re going to want when build up a wise dwelling of Matter gadgets as we go ahead.
We arrange one of many first Matter merchandise – the Nanoleaf Necessities Gentle Strip – and had it working in seconds, with a wealthy vary of options, together with shade management.
After all, Matter is constructed out of Apple’s current good dwelling expertise, so including a product is a carbon copy of the HomeKit means of scanning a QR code. There’s no have to seize the proprietary app or make an account elsewhere.
Matter will massively develop the quantity of gadgets that may play with Apple Dwelling, so the good dwelling ecosystem is about to get a lot greater and higher.
After all, the place the HomePod falls down towards the likes of the Echo vary and Sonos audio system is that it depends closely on Siri.
Siri nonetheless lags
Siri remains to be not pretty much as good a voice assistant as Alexa, neither is it simple to hold out comparatively easy duties by voice. There are such a lot of examples. Whilst we write this, we fired off a fast climate question to Siri, which it didn’t reply after a protracted deliberation. That basically is past fundamental stuff.
Music queries are typically dealt with a lot better – and Siri is de facto adept at listening to a ‘Hey Siri’ over loud music.
However there are niggly downsides. Within the UK, BBC Radio has no help and must be performed through AirPlay from the BBC Sounds app. Not an enormous imposition, however Alexa has a BBC Sounds talent, so we’re used to simply asking for radio and it enjoying – I do not need to pull my cellphone out.
In the long run, we gave up listening to the radio through HomePod, which is probably a win for Apple, if not for the person.
We additionally bumped into issues with Siri understanding whether or not we wished info through the iPhone or HomePod. This often occurred if we had been holding our iPhone when speaking to the speaker.
The HomePod is also now a humidity and temperature sensor, and the accuracy stood up. Our heating system doesn’t enable for third-party sensors, however we might see this grow to be extra helpful as Matter rolls out.
iPhone calling means you may ask Siri to make a name or reply an incoming one. As soon as the characteristic is enabled, you may merely say, “Hey Siri, name Jennifer” or “Hey Siri, reply my name.”
Hyperlink to Apple TV
HomePod works finest in all-Apple houses, and it actually obtained good once we hooked it as much as our Apple TV 4K (third Gen).
In our loft room, we arrange the HomePod as a default speaker for the Apple TV. If we had a stereo pair it could have been even higher, however the HomePod did a masterful job.
Even higher was the brand new eARC characteristic of the brand new Apple TV 4K, which allows the HomePod to take over the sound of something performed on the TV. This makes a stereo pair an efficient various to mid-range soundbars, and greater than a match for the likes of the Sonos Beam.
We additionally turned our Xbox Sequence X right into a CD participant, and eventually had high quality outlet for the handful of particular CDs we’d retained.
The Apple HomePod stays a superb dwelling speaker – with a number of the finest sound high quality at this worth level. It’s nonetheless solely an choice for all-Apple households, and paired up with an Apple TV, it will probably do great issues. However in true Apple fashion, you do issues its method or the freeway when it comes to the companies you utilize. From a wise dwelling perspective, nonetheless, Siri nonetheless lags as a voice controller, nevertheless it will get the job executed with solely occasional frustrations. Matter ought to open up a brand new world of choices for Apple-centric good houses, and could possibly be the start of a brand new
- Nice sound
- Spatial slaps
- Matter is a cinch
- Siri remains to be Siri
- Non-Apple integrations are flaky
- No aux-in