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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Apple announces the second-generation HomePod

The HomePod…lives! In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, Apple announced the second-generation HomePod with support for spatial audio, smart home automations using Siri, and a slightly refined design. Apple’s powered up the second-generation HomePod with an S7 chip, the same model that powered the Apple Watch Series 7. (The first-generation had an A8 processor.)

The full-size speakers also borrows some features from its smaller sibling, the HomePod mini, adding Ultra Wideband technology to allow you to hand off audio between your iPhone and the speaker and a Thread radio for connecting to smart home devices. Apple’s also added temperature, humidity, and accelerometer sensors to the device. Like previous HomePods, the second-gen model can be paired with a second speaker for a stero pair, and can share audio throughout a home via AirPlay.

And, in a feature that I’ve been advocating for, Siri on the HomePod can now use Sound Recognition to listen for specific noises, like a fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector going off, and alert you—though Apple says that feature will arrive in a software update later this spring and requires the new Home architecture (which the company has temporarily suspended).

Of course, one of the tricky selling points of the previous HomePod was the price—it debuted at $349, though it could often be found for cheaper. The second-generation HomePod starts at $299, but there are apparently some tradeoffs to hit that point: for example, the new model includes five tweeters to the first-generation’s seven, four microphones as opposed to the previous six, and (strangely) the older 802.11n Wi-Fi, as opposed to the 802.11ac found in the first model.

Like the first-generation model the second-generation HomePod is available in two colors: white, and what Apple is calling “Midnight”, which the company says is made from 100 percent recycled mesh-fabric. The new model is shipping on February 3, and is available to order today.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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