It’s been more than five years since the original Apple HomePod was announced, as Apple debuted the smart speaker back at WWDC 2017. The HomePod was subsequently released in February of 2018, operating as Apple’s first (and only) smart speaker for years. Then, the HomePod Mini was announced, bringing a more affordable smart speaker to the Apple ecosystem.
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Last year, the original HomePod was officially discontinued, with Apple seemingly deciding to forgo a true successor. This also left the HomePod Mini as the only Siri-powered smart speaker available. The move was a bit head-scratching given the ecosystems of smart speakers offered by the likes of Amazon (Alexa) and Google (Assistant).
Is Apple Working On A HomePod 2?
On one hand, there were those who were disappointed to see Apple give up its larger HomePod. Not only could just a single HomePod fill a room with excellent sound quality, but add a second HomePod to the mix and pair it with an Apple TV and you had an incredible home theater setup. This same functionality is possible with the HomePod Mini, but obviously, with a smaller size, this means that the listening experience won’t be as robust.
There have been some rumors over the years about whether Apple is working on a HomePod 2, but now the rumor mill is starting to heat up. The first major hype train started following a report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, who stated the following:
“The (new) HomePod, code-named B620, will run the same S8 chip coming to the (new Apple) watches and will be closer to the original HomePod in terms of size and audio performance rather than a new HomePod mini. The new HomePod will have an updated display on top and there’s even been some talk of multi-touch functionality.”
Taking things even further, Gurman revealed that Apple is actually working on “at least four new smart home devices, but not all will see the light of the day.” It’s possible that at the very least, Apple is working on a new version of the HomePod and maybe even an updated iteration of the HomePod Mini.
HomePod 2: Design and Features
While the HomePod was popular with true Apple fans, the broader appeal really wasn’t there. From a design perspective, it is truly a magnificent and sleek-looking piece of hardware, and will fit in practically anywhere that you would want to put it.
We’re expecting Apple to keep some semblance of this design for the HomePod 2, but there could be a big change in the pipeline. Instead of solely relying on Siri and the touch-sensitive top, the HomePod 2 could feature a built-in display. Without paying attention to the cost, this would immediately compete with the likes of Amazon’s Echo Show devices, along with Google’s Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max.
According to rumors, the HomePod 2 would be powered by the same Apple S8 chip that is slated to come to the Apple Watch Series 8, which comes as little surprise. And if there is a display or screen of any sort on the HomePod 2, we expect for it to run tvOS, as opposed to iPadOS or even iOS.
tvOS makes the most sense given that it provides a more simplistic interface compared to Apple’s other devices. But Apple also uses a modified version of tvOS for the HomePod and HomePod Mini’s existing software.
When Can We Expect To See It?
There are two other big questions that can’t yet be answered when it comes to Apple’s release of the HomePod 2. The first of which is price, as the $349 cost of the original HomePod was deemed “too expensive” for some users. And it’s actually the higher price tag that is attributed to Apple’s inability to make any leeway in the smart speaker market, at least until the HomePod Mini and its $99 price tag arrived.
If Apple adds a true touchscreen display with a tvOS-like interface, it would be highly uncharacteristic for Apple to keep it at the same $349 price tag. This is $20 more expensive than the base model 10.2-inch iPad. It’s more likely that we see something closer to $500, or even higher, depending on whether Apple plans to take on Sonos in terms of audio quality.
There are two trains of thought when it comes to a potential release date for the HomePod 2. Mark Gurman suggests that the updated smart speaker won’t arrive until sometime in 2023. While noted Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo claims that Apple could surprise everyone with a 2022 release.
It’s entirely possible that we see the HomePod 2 teased or even announced before the end of 2022, considering that Apple has one event scheduled and another one rumored for sometime in October. But we are leaning more towards an official announcement in 2023.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.