Report: Apple is resurrecting its high-end HomePod smart speaker – Ars Technica
Enlarge / Apple’s discontinued HomePod smart speaker.
After officially killing off the HomePod last year, Apple will soon release a new version of the smart speaker, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported in a Sunday newsletter.
The report detailed expectations without citing sources and said the speaker “is unlikely to arrive until” 2023. Gurman said the new HomePod is currently in development under the code name B620. It will reportedly use a new S8 processor that will also be used in the next Apple Watch. The New S8 “will have the same specifications as the S7, which was also the same as the S6,” Gurman said.
Bloomberg’s newsletter also said the new HomePod “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,” Gurman said.
Apple originally started selling the HomePod in 2018 for $350 but decided in March 2021 to discontinue the product and focus on the more affordable HomePod Mini.
“HomePod Mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant, and smart home control, all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod Mini,” Apple told TechCrunch at the time.
It’s unclear why Apple would bring back the HomePod after officially announcing its discontinuation (Apple was still providing software updates and support). With its high price, it was hard for Apple’s Siri-driven, high-end smart speaker to compete with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Nest, despite offering superior sound quality. The HomePod also struggled to compete with Sonos’ offerings, which play better with various platforms.
Still, developing the HomePod took years, and it arrived with high-end features like the ability to use machine learning to boost sound quality, based on speaker location and the number of speakers in the room.
And since its discontinuation, there have been some holes in Apple’s speaker lineup that the HomePod Mini can’t fill. For example, the HomePod Mini doesn’t support Dolby Atmos 5.1 or 7.1 virtual surround sound for Apple TV home theater setups.
And the HomePod Mini has less impressive audio quality, which is understandable since it’s a fraction of the price of the original HomePod.
For Apple aficionados craving something more advanced than the HomePod Mini, the revival of the HomePod is an exciting prospect. If Apple does bring the speaker back, it will hopefully add more flexibility, such as Bluetooth streaming, better integration with Android and non-Apple services, stronger voice assistant capabilities, and maybe even a lower price. If Apple can deliver those sorts of updates, there’s hope that the HomePod can find a more permanent home in the smart speaker market than its predecessor.