As previously mentioned, Apple announced a new HomePod model today, which it insists on referring to as the “HomePod” instead of a “HomePod Mini Max”. You might think I am being stupid — and I am — but this thing is closer to the Mini on the inside despite looking like the original model on the outside.
John Voorhees, MacStories:
The new HomePod has two fewer tweeters at five compared to the original’s seven. No mention is made of direct and ambient audio beamforming in the tech specs for the new HomePod, although it does support Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, which is a nice addition. The latest HomePod has four far-field microphones compared to the original’s six too.
In addition to the temperature and humidity sensor, the new HomePod also features an accelerometer and will support Sound Recognition later this spring with a software update. It’s not clear whether that software update will work with the original HomePod or not.
The new HomePod is also getting a WiFi upgrade with 802.11n support. The new model also includes a Thread radio and Ultra Wideband chip, which the original did not.
I am not sure I would frame 802.11n as an “upgrade” — the original model supported 802.11ac. It is closer to the HomePod Mini’s specs including its use of an S-series SoC from the Apple Watch instead of an A-series chip, and its inclusion of a temperature and humidity sensor which Apple is finally activating in the Mini.
This strikes me as a risky launch. I am sure it sounds great and works as expected, flaky Siri and all, but it is $300. That is just $50 less than the original model sold for before it was discontinued. Who was in the market for the HomePod but for it being $50 too expensive? Moreover, this launch comes on the tail end of stories of smart speakers being under-used. If all you want it for is typical voice control stuff, why not get the Mini? You could get three of them for the price of a single HomePod.
Update: Sebastiaan de With has a great idea to make this product more interesting. A blue Dalmatian print would look great, too.