Six curious information in regards to the 2nd-gen HomePod
Last week was a busy one for Apple. On Tuesday, we received new chips, Mac minis, and MacGuide Pros, and Wednesday introduced the shocking return of the full-sized HomePod, with an identical design as the unique mannequin in addition to the identical $299 price ticket, about two years after it was discontinued.
And while you dig into it, issues get even weirder. The new HomePod isn’t a carbon copy of the unique mannequin, however in delicate and complicated ways in which received’t be all that noticeable to anybody shopping for one. Here are 5 information in regards to the new HomePod which have us scratching our heads:
Apple redesigned it to look the identical
At first look (and second and third), the 2nd-gen HomePod appears to be an identical to the unique mannequin. It has the identical round physique, mesh exterior, and display, however there are slight variations. For one, it’s 4mm shorter and 200 grams lighter. The display on the high is now barely recessed, and the show is bigger and simpler to see. The “seamless mesh cloth” from the unique mannequin is now “acoustically clear mesh cloth,” and stretches a bit extra excessive. There’s a brand new Midnight shade that appears quite a bit like a barely darker shade of Space Gray. However, not one of the modifications will make a lot of a visible distinction except you’re evaluating a brand new one and an previous one facet by facet, so it appears unusual that Apple went via the difficulty of redesigning the HomePod in such small methods.
You can’t create a stereo pair with a 1st-gen HomePod
One of the HomePod’s finest options is its capacity to create a stereo pair that “performs every channel in excellent concord, making a wider, extra immersive soundstage than conventional stereo audio system.” It’s not a brand new characteristic, however there’s a catch: You can’t pair a brand new HomePod with an previous one. For a stereo pair to work, you’ll want two of the identical HomePods: a 1st gen with a 1st gen; mini with a mini; 2nd gen with a 2nd gen. It makes logical sense for the reason that two have totally different specs, nevertheless it positive would have been good for Apple to determine a method to make the 2 play properly collectively.
It makes use of an Apple Watch chip as an alternative of an iPhone one
The unique HomePod used Apple’s A8 processor, which had debuted within the iPhone 6 a number of years earlier, as “the brains behind the superior audio improvements.” When the HomePod mini arrived a number of years later, Apple used an Apple Watch Series 5’s S5 chip to “obtain huge sound out of such a compact design.” The 2nd-gen HomePod additionally makes use of an Apple Watch chip, the Apple Watch Series 7’s S7 processor, “to supply much more superior computational audio.” That’s all properly and good, nevertheless it’s exhausting to not assume an A12 or A13 would supply a little bit of future-proofing.
It nonetheless has an built-in energy cable
One of the unique HomePod’s largest shortcomings was the built-in energy cable—primarily as a result of folks naturally tried to disconnect it and generally ended up ruining their audio system. It’s potential that Apple modified the connector to cease that from taking place, however primarily based on images, the HomePod nonetheless has the identical completely connected energy cable on the rear of the system. A change to a magnetic connector just like the 24-inch iMac would have been a pleasant enchancment.
It helps slower Wi-Fi than the iPhone 6
It’s bizarre sufficient that the brand new HomePod nonetheless has Bluetooth 5 as an alternative of 5.3 (as discovered on new Macs and iPhones), nevertheless it really has slower Wi-Fi than the unique mannequin. According to the tech specs, the primary HomePod supported 802.11ac, higher generally known as Wi-Fi 5 whereas the newer HomePod makes use of Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n). Perhaps it’s an excessive amount of to ask for Wi-Fi 6E when the brand new iPhones don’t even help it, however we’re shocked to see the brand new HomePod makes use of a Wi-Fi normal as previous because the iPhone 4.
The audio specs look like inferior
Here’s the strangest factor—primarily based on the audio specs, the brand new HomePod isn’t nearly as good as the unique mannequin. While it certainly “delivers next-level acoustics” as Apple claims, a fast comparability of the tech specs reveals two fewer horn-loaded tweeters (5 vs. seven) and microphones (4 vs. six). Of course, all audio system and microphones will not be made the identical and audio processing counts for lots. We’re assured that Apple will get equal or higher audio out of fewer audio system and microphones—nevertheless it’s unusual that Apple didn’t really say the HomePod 2 is healthier and even stranger that the previous HomePod is seemingly superior to the brand new one on paper.