If Apple had released this HomePod 2nd Generation a couple of years ago when the original HomePod was still on the market it would make great sense as a solid upgrade to what was the most outstanding sounding smart speaker on the market.  Today though, its resurrection as a product raises more questions than there are answers for, but the simple fact is – HomePod is back baby!

It’s a tougher market for Apple this time round, with Google’s smart speaker dominance in Australia at peak levels, while even Amazon’s Echo speakers are in more homes than Apple HomePod or HomePod mini by a long way.  Both companies offer larger speakers with booming sounds – something that wasn’t around when the first HomePod came to town in 2018.

However, straight up, listening to the 2nd Generation HomePod and it’s just as good as ever, if not better, and I do think it’s hard to find anything comparable from Amazon or Google.

Google and Amazon offer speakers in a race to the bottom price wise, this means more people, more rooms, and more homes have smart speakers.  Apple isn’t in that game.  The HomePod mini is a $149 and is the same size as a $79 or less speaker from Google, but offers a far better sound.  HomePod 2nd Generation comes to Australia this Friday at $479 and boy does it boom.

Side by side with the original, it all looks the same to me.  But, plug it in and you get your first sign that Apple has made some tweaks.

No longer is the power cord fixed into the HomePod – on the 2nd Generation your power cable plugs into HomePod so it can be removed if needed – for a quick power cycle or when moving the device – this makes cable management easier if you’re dealing with tight spaces.

Power it on, and the second visible change comes to life.  Siri’s “face” the colourful light pattern on the touch surface on top of HomePod is now enormous.  On the original HomePod this was about the size of a 20c coin in the middle of the screen.  On the 2nd Generation HomePod the Siri screen is the whole touch surface, and it really brings it to life.

Some tweaks to the hardware mean there are actually less tweeters, but tweaks to the software mean you’re getting the same sound performance.  I’m sure some amazing audiophile might hear a difference but for me, it was top notch.

Pairing two together as a LEFT + RIGHT pair is utterly impressive – genuinely great sound.  That same combo paired with an Apple TV 4K will turn this into your whole TV sound system.

Problematically, my first actual use of the HomePod – my standard “Hey Siri, Play John Farnham” – resulted in a response along the lines of there was no John Farnham in my Apple Music Library.  Well, that’s bulls*&t.  Sadly, I was under the pump to get on the road travelling, so I left that for another day, likely a reset and re-linking to my account is required.

I was able to easily play content from my phone to test the sound, as well as using them as speakers for my Mac.  

With Apple putting their eggs into the smart-home basket once again, as Smart-home moves to Matter for a resurgence itself – the question left for Apple to answer is: When will Siri get smarter?

Siri is the oldest smart assistant of the bunch, but has no-where near the smarts of Alexa or Google.  This has to improve, and fast.  If the rumours of Apple working on Augmented Reality glasses is true, my advice to Tim Cook is to divert all that R&D money to Siri, Siri, Siri.  Siri could and should be the single best reason to be in the Apple Ecosystem, yet she’s not.

HomePod 2nd Generation has the same outstanding sound as the O.G.  It has a slightly better price, though still hefty at $479, and it looks great – so if you can afford it, get it.