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what we want to see | TechToSee

The original Apple HomePod was among the best wireless speakers on the market, before being unceremoniously ditched in March 2021 and the company chose to focus on the smaller, cheaper Apple HomePod mini.

While the Apple HomePod mini is a fantastic speaker in its own right, its small size and low price makes us doubt that Apple would not release a follow-up to its original flagship smart speaker, in an effort to compete with more powerful models like the Amazon Echo Studio and the Sonos One.

Since Apple ditched the HomePod, we’ve seen a number of patents that might suggest the company is looking to create a new model of HomePod – the so-called Apple HomePod 2 – and it may even come with a display, though. rumors want it. to be believed.

Apple has so far not confirmed whether the HomePod 2 really exists, which means we can’t say for sure if it will come to fruition anytime soon – but that hasn’t stopped us from dreaming about all the features. which we’d love to see from the tech giant’s next smart speaker.

[Update: The iPhone 13 launch event came and went without any mention of a new HomePod, but we did get out first glimpse of the Apple Watch 7, new iPad, new iPad mini, and iPadOS 15.]

Cut to the chase

  • What is that? The next Apple HomePod smart speaker.
  • When is he going to come out? It is still to be confirmed.
  • How much will it cost? Probably similar to the original HomePod ($ 349 / £ 319 / AU $ 499).

Apple HomePod 2 release date

It’s not yet clear when the Apple HomePod 2 will release – or even if it really exists – and there was no mention of the smart speaker at Apple’s first event in 2021.

Indeed, we could wait a while to see the HomePod 2. In a Bloomberg report by Mark Gurman on the recently discovered temperature sensors inside the Apple HomePod mini, Gurman says that “before the shutdown of the Larger HomePod, the company had been working on an updated version for release in 2022. It has also developed new speakers with displays and cameras, but such a launch is not imminent.

Apple HomePod 2 price

Again, there’s no word on the potential price tag of the Apple HomePod 2, but if it’s another full-size HomePod as opposed to the HomePod mini, we’d expect that. it costs about the same price as the original smart speaker.

When it launched in 2018, the Apple HomePod was priced at $ 349 / £ 319 / AU $ 499, making it one of the most expensive smart speakers on the market – and certainly the most expensive mainstream option. .

That’s why we were surprised when the Apple HomePod mini released in 2020 for just $ 99 / £ 99 / AU $ 149. We hope that while the next HomePod is full-sized, Apple finds a happy medium between the two price points.

mini homepod

The Apple HomePod mini (pictured) is smaller and cheaper than the original smart speaker. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple HomePod 2 rumors

So far we’ve heard a few Apple HomePod 2 rumors that might tell us what the next smart speaker will look like.

HomePod with screen?

One of the more interesting rumors is that the HomePod 2 could come with a display, like the Amazon Echo Show 10 and the Google Nest Hub 2.

News that Apple is potentially working on a HomePod smart display could be a good indication that the company is renewing its focus on smart home compatibility.

More, as Steve Moser of MacRumors Discovered in the beta code for tvOS 14.5, Apple added the FaceTime and iMessage frameworks, as well as a new AVFCapture framework related to capturing images.

Apple uses tvOS as the basis of the software that runs on the HomePod, rather than iOS, which means that messaging and video calls could also be routed to a future HomePod smart display.

Smarter than your average smart speaker

Whether the next HomePod is a smart display or a regular smart speaker, it has the potential to be very smart. A recently discovered patent shows Apple’s ambition for its smart speakers to work alongside its so-called Apple VR headsets.

The patent describes a speaker system equipped with additional microphones and depth detection cameras. In tandem, they could locate a user’s position in a room and tailor a 3D audio experience to what is seen in a virtual reality environment.

Amazon Echo Show 10

The HomePod 2 could have a screen like the Amazon Echo Show 10 (pictured). (Image credit: TechToSee)

From what we can understand from the patent, a user with one or more HomePods configured could enjoy adaptive and surrounding sound without the need for headphones or speakers on the device like what you see with the devices. Oculus Quest headsets. Suppose there is a virtual cat in your VR experience – walking towards it could increase the volume of its meow from a HomePod Mini, for example.

This would also work in two-way communication applications – a user with a similar setup elsewhere could pass their spatial audio information to another user in VR with the same setup, and both would be able to identify the sound coming from the other in 3d space.

The patent also describes how this could be used for commercial purposes and explains how a recording and transmission system could be set up during a live music event and transmitted to a VR headset with the resulting spatial audio information.

As with any patented technology, there’s no guarantee that these features will actually materialize, but they do give us an interesting glimpse into the future of Apple speakers.

The Apple HomePod mini may also offer some clues to the features we’ll see in the upcoming HomePod.

Apple HomePod

(Image credit: Avenir)

An integrated temperature sensor?

The HomePod mini contains a hidden sensor that can measure temperature and humidity – potentially unlocking exciting new features for the device in the future.

A recent report by Bloomberg highlighted the previously undiscovered feature, describing a sensor that could enable ‘internet-connected thermostats [to] adjust different parts of a house to suit current conditions.

The hardware could also allow the HomePod mini to automatically initiate other temperature-based actions, such as turning on a fan, suggesting the device could see a slew of feature upgrades in it. future software updates.

It is possible that these feature upgrades will be made to the HomePod 2 as well, if Apple decides to include these sensors in a future model.

Apple HomePod 2: what we want to see

While information on the Apple HomePod 2 is still thin on the ground, there are a few things we’d like to see from the smart speaker rumor.

Bluetooth connectivity

Of course, smart speakers are all about voice commands and the fact that they’re stand-alone devices that don’t need to be connected to another audio source to play songs and podcasts. But, sometimes a few more options just come in handy, especially if you’re trying to play a track that for some reason can’t be found on the smart speaker’s streaming service of choice.

It may not be cutting edge in the world of smart speakers, but there is always a strange occasion when a Bluetooth speaker would be useful, and it’s a feature that was introduced with the HomePod mini.

If the HomePod 2 is also tied to Apple Music, that would be especially useful for anyone looking to access, say, Spotify streaming. Which brings us to our next point …

Free access to other music services

If you buy one of the current Apple HomePod speakers, you’re essentially locking yourself into Apple’s audio ecosystem. So, iTunes purchases aside, it’s $ 9.99 / £ 9.99 / AU $ 11.99 per month for a single Apple Music streaming account, or $ 14.99 / £ 14.99 / 17 , AU $ 99 for a family account.

That’s good if you’re a Cupertino follower with an iPhone, and Apple Music is a great service that’s definitely worth investing in. could be a frustrating restriction.

By removing a few bricks from its walled garden and letting other services take a look, a new Apple HomePod could give the user base a boost – and it could be associated with incentives to switch to Apple Music. , if Apple was playing a wise long game. .

Better Siri performance

Apple’s HomePod performs well on sound, but when it comes to intelligence, it lacks a bit. Compared to Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, Siri is rather limited in what it can do for you as a smart home hub. That’s not great considering it’s one of the more expensive smart speakers out there and Siri is your primary means of controlling it.

With that in mind, we’d like to see better Siri performance in a new HomePod iteration when it comes to executing commands quickly and accurately.

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