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

enlarge / Apple’s discontinued HomePod smart speaker.

Jeff Dunn

After officially cancelling 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 detailed expectations without citing sources, and said the speakers are “unlikely to arrive before 2023.” Gurman said a new HomePod is currently in development, codenamed B620. It will reportedly use the 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 is also the same as the S6,” Gurman said.

Bloomberg’s newsletter also says the new HomePod “will be closer to the original HomePod in size and audio performance than the new HomePod Mini.”

“The new HomePod will have an updated display on top, and there’s even some talk of multi-touch capabilities,” Gurman said.

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

“The HomePod Mini has been very popular since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, a smart assistant and smart home controls for just $99. We’re focusing our efforts on the HomePod Mini,” Apple said at the time Tell TechCrunch.

It’s unclear why Apple brought the HomePod back after it officially announced the discontinuation (Apple is still providing software updates and support). With its hefty price tag, Apple’s Siri-powered high-end smart speaker has a hard time competing with the likes of the Amazon Echo and Google Nest, even though it offers excellent sound quality. The HomePod also struggles to compete with Sonos’ offerings, which perform better on various platforms.

Still, it took years to develop the HomePod, and it has 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.

Since the end of production, Apple’s speaker lineup has had some holes 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’s audio quality isn’t as impressive, which is understandable since it’s a fraction of the price of the original HomePod.

The HomePod’s revival is an exciting prospect for Apple enthusiasts craving something more advanced than the HomePod Mini. If Apple does bring the speaker back, it’s expected to add more flexibility like Bluetooth streaming, better integration with Android and non-Apple services, stronger voice assistant capabilities, and possibly even a lower price. If Apple can deliver these updates, the HomePod is expected to find a more permanent home in the smart speaker market than its predecessor.

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