I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: HomeKit doesn’t get enough love from Apple.
While no mention was made of the HomePod 2 at the recent “Far Out” event, there’s a lot of discussion around it (including whether it even exists). Logically, Apple will eventually release a new iteration of the device, especially after the original version was discontinued in March 2021.
So what can you expect? Right now, absolutely nothing. Take all of these rumors with skepticism. Though they come from trusted analysts and leakers, until Apple itself confirms any of this information, it’s all speculation.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple could launch an updated, revitalized HomePod 2 in early 2023. In his newsletter, Gurman states that “a new HomePod is unlikely to arrive until next year.”
On the other hand, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo states that a new version of the HomePod might show up as soon as the fourth quarter of 2022. Kuo goes on to speculate that “Apple is still figuring out how to succeed in this market,” a statement I agree with. For all its technical prowess, Apple hasn’t been able to match Amazon or Google in the smart speaker market.
But as Amazon and Google continue to plow forward in the smart home market, the sooner Apple releases another smart device, the better.
In the same newsletter, Gurman goes on to discuss the potential specs of the HomePod 2. According to his leaks, it will use the same S8 chips as the Apple Watch Series 8, but its size and audio quality will be more like the original HomePod than the HomePod Mini. It will have an updated display on the top of it, with the potential for multi-touch functionality.
The HomePod 2 would benefit from improved speakers, especially if it plans to stay competitive with other smart speakers on the market.
Some fans have made the connection between the updated display and a potential link to Apple’s rumored mixed-reality headset. Could we see a mixed-reality hologram of Siri responding to our questions? Maybe. Maybe not.
The HomePod 2 would benefit from improved speakers, especially if it plans to stay competitive with other smart speakers on the market. Apple’s main selling point with the original HomePod was the audio quality, especially in comparison to equivalent speakers at that time. Neither Amazon nor Google made audio fidelity their main priority when the HomePod first released, but now both companies have speakers that compete (with better smart assistants to boot).
The original HomePod was cylindrical, much like the Nest Audio. The HomePod Mini is designed more like the Echo Dot, with a spherical shape. Since there have only been two versions of the HomePod, there’s not an established shape.
The cylindrical shape makes the most sense for speakers. It allows for even distribution of sound throughout a space. If the HomePod 2 is anything like other smart speakers, it will be able to sense other HomePods in the same space and adjust its soundscape to provide better fidelity and accommodate for more than one source.
It’s also possible the HomePod will have sensors built-in, like the rumored temperature and humidity sensors in the HomePod Mini. This could be used to improve on HomeKit’s abilities and make it more of a contender in the smart home market.
As with any product, it’s hard to give an estimate on price. All there is to go on is previous pricing structures and the current pricing trends Apple has shown. The original HomePod launched at $350, but the price dropped to $300 when customers complained about the high price tag.
The HomePod Mini is currently priced at $100. If I had to make a guess on the price of a new HomePod, I can see it selling for $300, especially accounting for current inflation models. And if Apple follows its ongoing trend of a “Pro” model, I could see that price reaching $400.
I would honestly love to see HomeKit take more of a stance in the smart home market. It’s a powerful platform that’s been ignored for far too long, and its integration with Thread makes it one of the easiest smart home platforms for setting up new products. Apple might be waiting to expand its smart home platform until Matter becomes more widespread, as that would provide near-instant access to a huge number of products that aren’t currently counted in its catalog.
Apple might wait until the official launch of Matter to announce the HomePod 2.
Right now, the groundwork is already in place for HomeKit to be one of the easiest-to-use systems. It’s built in to the iPhone’s control center. What it lacks are products.
Amazon and Google both have hundreds of third-party devices to choose from, but HomeKit has a limited range of options that turns most people off. Siri is also a bit behind; she can perform some functions, but isn’t even a fraction as smart as Alexa or Google.
It might be a pipe dream, but I would love to see a smart display in the next HomePod 2. Give me the ability to access my calendar, to-do list, and integrate iPhone and iPad app functionality into the display. That would expand the utility to a far greater degree.
It’s almost a guarantee the HomePod 2 will emerge at some point in the future, but when? That’s anyone’s guess. Until we get an actual announcement, there’s going to be a lot of speculation.
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