Apple is known for launching products that wow customers — from iPhones to AirPods.
But the company announced today that it’s relaunching a “flop” rated smart tech site after a rare consumer error in 2018.
The Apple HomePod is one of the best smart speaker systems, similar to the Amazon Echo and Google Nest collections.
Available in Australia from February 3, at $479 making it one of the most expensive soundbars around.
But the $3.1 trillion company believes it’s worth the push because it offers “next-level acoustics in a beautiful, iconic design.”
news.com.au was allowed to play a short play with the HomePod in New York and its acoustics are impressive.
However, commentators looking at the eagle noticed one telling word the tech giant didn’t utter as it launched on Wednesday, US time.
And some are wondering if there are enough new features about the HomePod to make sure it performs better than its first iteration.
The first HomePod, released in 2018, has been quietly released in 2021 without replacement. Although its stablemate, the cheaper and less flashy HomePod mini, continues to sell out.
While reviewers liked the initial HomePod’s sound quality, it was seen as a failure in other areas. Some songs could only be played from Apple Music and were quite expensive due to the limitations of its smart functionality compared to the competitors.
It was discovered that the first HomePod had stained some wooden surfaces much to the dismay of users with expensive furniture.
Technology website Endgagdet said Apple “ditched” the HomePod in 2021, adding that the device appeared to be a “work in progress.” FastCompany said it was a “failure” that brought nothing new to a crowded market.
However, she is back now. And Apple insists on solving problems – they are smarter and HomePod 2.0 will succeed where HomePod 1.0 did not.
“With the popularity of the HomePod mini, we’ve seen a growing interest in the more powerful audio that can be achieved in a larger HomePod,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
“Leveraging our sonic expertise and innovation, the new HomePod delivers rich deep bass and a natural, clear, detailed midrange.”
Perfect sound quality
Looks wise, it’s basically identical to Apple’s previous smart speaker with a mesh texture and screen that pulsates in a myriad of ethereal colors when you shout “Hey Siri.”
It features a “high trip” tweeter and five tweeters (down from seven in the 2018 version) around the base that, along with the S7 chip, deliver a “leading listening experience,” the company says.
Sensors in the device mean it can work in the middle of a room or next to a wall and adjust where it sends sound accordingly.
news.com.au heard a bunch of quick tones on the HomePod and the sound was crisp, full throttle and sweeping which is great from a relatively small device.
At times during the short audition, it seemed as though every element of the song was highlighted from the melodious bass to the lip-smacking of the singer as they drew in their breath.
If you have two HomePods, you can play the same songs, or really different songs, through them at once. Or put them together for a stereo experience that Apple said is more “immersive” than traditional speaker pairs.
Appel didn’t say a word
However, The Verge notes that Apple has notably avoided a single word when describing the device’s sound quality. He didn’t say it was “better” than the previous HomePod. Sound quality suggestion may be similar.
The new HomePod is also still in the Apple ecosystem. You’ll need an iPhone to set it up and it’s only compatible with iPhone 8 and later as well as 5th generation iPads and some other Apple technologies.
Android users can instead use Siri to connect to HomePod or Airplay Spotify from any iPhone. There is also no Bluetooth connectivity.
And it’s still possible to stain wood furniture, with Apple saying that “it’s not unusual for any speaker with a silicone vibration-damping base to leave light marks.” You probably took it off your family’s living room table decades ago.
HomePod just got smarter
Apple has tried hard to make the HomePod’s functionality smarter, which is one of the main criticisms of its 2018 speakers.
It can now interact with many commands. It can tell you the temperature outside but it can also tell you the temperature in the room you are in.
Users can control other smart devices via HomePod and create different mood settings. By saying “Good afternoon,” for example, the device might lower smart blinds and dim smart lights.
It can also listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and alert you via your phone if you’re outside, so you can communicate quickly and crystal clear.
Privacy concerns have plagued the Amazon Echo with concerns that users could intrude on it and that the audio might be saved forever and employees could listen in.
Amazon said that privacy concerns are overstated, and that the speakers only record when something is requested and those recordings can be deleted.
Apple goes further and said that its HomePod does not save any audio, not even for training purposes, unless the user specifically allows the company to do so.
Its $479 price tag makes the HomePod expensive, even though it’s about $70 cheaper than the first HomePod. As for the Amazon Echo Studio, which is its most expensive version, it includes five speakers, Dolby Atmos and comes with a price of $ 329. It brings the price of the Apple device closer to offerings from premium brands like Bose.
But Apple is adamant it’s worth it for people who want superior sound quality.
The second-generation HomePod looks and feels like the first. But it’s a smarter piece with more functionality and a slightly reduced price tag. Apple hopes that will be enough to avoid another fiasco.
Originally published as Apple launches second iterations of HomePod smart speakers