Report: Apple is reviving its high-end smart speaker HomePod

Apple home pod
Enlarge / Apple’s discontinued smart speaker HomePod.

jeff dunn

After Apple officially ditched 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 details expectations without citing sources and said the spokesman will “likely not arrive until” 2023. Gurman said the new HomePod is currently in development, codenamed B620. It will reportedly use a new S8 processor, which will also be used in the next Apple Watch. The new S8 “will have the same specs as the S7, which was also the S6,” Gurman said.

Bloomberg’s newsletter also said that the new HomePod will be “closer to the original HomePod than a new HomePod Mini in terms of size and audio performance.”

“The new HomePod will have an updated display at the top, and there’s even been talk of multi-touch functionality,” Gurman said.

Apple originally started selling the $350 HomePod in 2018, but decided in March 2021 to discontinue the product and focus on the more affordable HomePod Mini.

“The HomePod Mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, bringing customers amazing sound, a smart assistant, and smart home control for just $99. We’re focusing our efforts on the 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 hefty price tag, Apple’s high-end Siri-controlled smart speaker has found it difficult to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Nest despite superior sound quality. The HomePod has also struggled to compete with Sonos’ offerings, which work better on different platforms.

Still, the HomePod took years to develop, and it came with high-end features like the ability to use machine learning to improve sound quality based on speaker placement and the number of speakers in the room.

And since its discontinuation, there are some gaps 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 than impressive audio quality, which is understandable given that it’s a fraction of the price of the original HomePod.

For Apple fans longing for something more advanced than the HomePod Mini, the HomePod revival is an exciting prospect. Hopefully, when Apple brings the speaker back, it will offer more flexibility, such as B. Bluetooth streaming, better integration with Android and non-Apple services, stronger voice assistant capabilities, and maybe even a lower price. If Apple can deliver these kinds of updates, there’s hope that the HomePod can find a more permanent home in the smart speaker market than its predecessor.