Report: Apple revives its advanced HomePod smart speaker

apple homepod
Enlarge / Apple’s discontinued HomePod smart speaker.

Jeff Dunn

After officially killing 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, saying that the speaker “it is unlikely to arrive before” 2023. Gurman said that the new HomePod is currently under development under the code name B620. It will reportedly use a new S8 processor that will also be used in the next Apple Watch. The new S8 “will have the same specifications as the S7, which was also the same as the S6,” said Gurman.

Bloomberg’s newsletter also said that the new HomePod “will be closer to the original HomePod in terms of size and sound performance, instead of a new HomePod Mini.”

“The new HomePod will have an updated screen on top, and there has even been talk of multi-touch functionality,” said Gurman.

Apple originally began selling the HomePod in 2018 for $ 350, but decided in March 2021 to discontinue the product and focus on the less expensive HomePod Mini.

“The HomePod Mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant and smart home control, all for just $ 99. We focus our efforts on the HomePod Mini,” Apple told TechCrunch at the time.

It is unclear why Apple would bring back the HomePod after officially announcing its termination (Apple continued to provide software updates and support). With its high price, it was difficult for Apple’s Siri-powered, high-end smart speakers to compete with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Nest, despite offering superior sound quality. HomePod also struggled to compete with Sonos’ offerings, which play better with different platforms.

Nevertheless, the development of the HomePod took years, and it came with advanced features such as the ability to use machine learning to increase sound quality, based on speaker placement and the number of speakers in the room.

And since it was discontinued, there have been some gaps in Apple’s speaker range that the HomePod Mini cannot fill. For example, the HomePod Mini does not support Dolby Atmos 5.1 or 7.1 virtual surround sound for Apple TV home theater setup.

And the HomePod Mini has less impressive sound quality, which is understandable since it is a fraction of the price of the original HomePod.

For Apple lovers who want something more advanced than the HomePod Mini, the revival of the HomePod is an exciting perspective. If Apple brings the speaker back, it will hopefully add more flexibility, such as Bluetooth streaming, better integration with Android and non-Apple services, stronger voice assistant features, and maybe even a lower price. If Apple can deliver those kinds of updates, there is hope that HomePod can find a more permanent home in the smart speaker market than its predecessor.