Why the original HomePod disappeared from Apple’s product lineup is a question for the ages. Was it too expensive? Not selling well enough? Taking the shine off the HomePod Mini? Or flawed in some way? I can’t think any of those are genuine reasons why Apple essentially discontinued the HomePod but as of next month, it’s back!

The 2nd Generation HomePod will land in Australia for a retail price of $479 – for context that’s $20 less than the original did almost exactly five years earlier.

Today, as the Smart Home begins it’s second coming thanks the the industry wide support for “Matter“.

One big difference that we can see from Apple’s announcement is the sensor inside that allows HomePod to alert to Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Alarms (It’s listening for the alarm and will alert you on your iPhone, there’s no smoke detector built in), as well as a temperature and humidity sensor. Interestingly, that same sensor exists on HomePod Mini and will be enabled in a software update.

There was no hint of reasoning for this updated release, only excitement from Apple’s head of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak “Leveraging our audio expertise and innovations, the new HomePod delivers rich, deep bass, natural mid-range, and clear, detailed highs,”

“With the popularity of HomePod mini, we’ve seen growing interest in even more powerful acoustics achievable in a larger HomePod. We’re thrilled to bring the next generation of HomePod to customers around the world.”

Apple says HomePod 2 has a “refined design” but it looks the same to me:) Perhaps more of the backlit touch surface lights up now, and the colours are now white and midnight – made from a 100% recycled mesh fabric.

The original HomePod was an audio beast. There were not many a better speaker of it’s size. Critically, it retains the room-sensing technology to understand if it’s placed near a wall to then adjust to suit.

And you can play to multiple speakers at the same time, and stereo pair two HomePod speakers in the same place. One of the least used but stand-out features is the HomePod pairing with Apple TV 4K to become your TV sound system. Apple TV supports eARC so can be the full sound system for your TV in an instant.

But along with the second coming of HomePod is the well timed second coming of Smart Home. New devices and existing devices that support the new “Matter” standard will mean a simpler integration for your switches lights and other controls into your Apple Home ecosystem, all of which can use HomePod as a hub for fast and smart automations and smart home control.

HomePod (2nd Gen) comes to Australia on Feb 3, for $479.