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$299 Apple HomePod Speaker Upgrades Sound, Siri Smarts

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$299 Apple HomePod Speaker Upgrades Sound, Siri Smarts

(CTN News) – Wednesday marked almost two years since Apple HomePod discontinued its first. A full-size smart speaker with improved acoustics and smart-home features including temperature and humidity sensors and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, will listen for and execute “Hey, Siri” commands on the upcoming HomePod and HomePod Mini.

Apple HomePod, like the previous model, is now up for preorder for $299 (£299, AU$479) and will be available on Feb. 3. Choose from black or white.

Even though the design is similar to the original full-size HomePod, which was discontinued in 2021, the updated HomePod has a few upgrades.

Apple says it has a custom woofer and five tweeters that use beamforming to improve immersion. A stereo pair can be created by linking two HomePod speakers, but you can’t combine an original HomePod and a new one.

With AirPlay 2, you can connect multiple HomePods throughout your house for multi-room audio.

You can also play Dolby Atmos music on Apple Music with the speaker. This surround-sound standard is used in movie theaters and homes, and more recently for album remixes.

There are also some cool smart-home features on the speaker. According to Apple HomePod, Smart Recognition will listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and send a notification directly to iPhones if a sound is detected.

Also, the speaker has sensors for temperature and humidity, so users can set up triggers to turn on a fan when the room gets too hot.

The Apple HomePod Mini also has a temperature and humidity sensor, and Smart Recognition is coming soon.

The full-sized HomePod supports Apple’s HomeKit, as well as Matter, an open-source protocol for smart devices.

Since at least June 2022, Apple has been rumored to be working on a speaker called “HomePod 2.” Apple has only released three speakers in the last 20 years — the iPod Hi-Fi, the original $350 HomePod, and the HomePod Mini.

With a $299 price tag, the Apple HomePod will compete with higher-end smart speakers like the Amazon Echo Studio and Sonos One.

HomePod mini is competitive with Google’s larger Nest Audio, though it’s undercut by the $49 Google Nest Mini and most Amazon Echoes.

Even though Apple’s digital assistant Siri dominates the mobile space, it has struggled to translate this success to smart speakers. Google’s Nest and Amazon’s Echo series are the top two speakers from Google.

We’re looking forward to reviewing the upcoming Apple HomePod.

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