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Apple Brings Back Full-Size HomePod Smart Speaker, Priced at $300

Second-generation device supports Spatial Audio tracks, provides smart-home features and connects to Apple TV 4K

Apple HomePod
Courtesy of Apple

Apple is back, big time, in the smart speaker space: The tech giant announced its second-generation full-size HomePod — promising “next-level acoustics” — representing a new competitor to the likes of Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Nest and Sonos speakers.

The launch of the new $299 HomePod, which measures 5.6 inches wide and 6.6 inches high, comes two years after it discontinued the original model. Apple has continued to sell the smaller HomePod mini speakers ($99 each).

The new HomePod is available in white and black (or “midnight” as Apple has dubbed it). It’s slated to ship beginning Feb. 3 and available to pre-order.

The device supports Spatial Audio tracks, and users can create a stereo pair with two HomePod speakers in the same space. The speakers can be connected with Apple TV 4K for Dolby Atmos audio in a home-theater setup, and with Siri on HomePod users can control what’s playing on their Apple TV hands-free. Also, HomePods support multiroom audio, so you can play the same song on multiple HomePod or HomePod Mini speakers or even use them as an intercom to broadcast messages to other rooms.

In addition to core audio features, the second-generation HomePod provides smart-home automation and management features. The device features a new built-in temperature and humidity sensor. That lets you create automations that, for example, close the blinds or turn on a fan automatically when a certain temperature is reached in a room. Via an update this spring, the HomePod’s microphone can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and send a notification directly to a user’s iPhone if a sound is identified.

Apple revealed that HomePod mini speakers, which first shipped in November 2020, also include a temperature and humidity sensor, which is evidently now being activated with the new smart-home features.

HomePod supports the Matter smart-home standard, which debuted last fall, enabling the speaker to connect to and control Matter-enabled accessories. Apple is a member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, the organization that maintains the Matter standard, alongside Google, Amazon, Comcast, Samsung and other companies.

“Leveraging our audio expertise and innovations, the new HomePod delivers rich, deep bass, natural midrange, and clear, detailed highs,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior VP of worldwide marketing, said in announcing the new model. “With the popularity of HomePod mini, we’ve seen growing interest in even more powerful acoustics achievable in a larger HomePod.”