At least that’s the logic of Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who tweeted that Apple employees can buy up to 10 HomePod speakers on their company discount. Previously they were limited to two HomePod speakers, so this dramatic increase is an indication that the HomePod may be on its way out.
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At the same time, the HomePod can be picked up at rather heavily discounted prices, with Best Buy selling it for $200, down from its starting price of $299. That’s a pretty good price for a smart speaker that we praised soundly for its aural abilities, though we weren’t so sold on its Siri smarts.
Given that Apple seems to be clearing house of HomePod units, it may be quietly working on a sequel while iPhone 12, AirPods Studio, and Apple Glasses rumors and leaks grab the headlines. And it’s got us thinking what we’d like to see from a HomePod 2.
A new design
The HomePod has an attractive design that stands out from the likes of the Sonos One and other audio-centric smart speakers. But we’d still like to see Apple mix things up a little with the HomePod 2.
More color options would be a good start, but some other form factors would be appreciated as well. How about a HomePod 2 mini for a bedside or office table, like the Amazon Echo Dot? Or perhaps a HomePod 2 soundbar to go alongside an Apple TV setup, especially now that Apple TV Plus has made its debut.
While the HomePod has class-leading sound for a smart speaker, the ‘smart’ part was rather lacklustre. Siri just couldn’t keep pace with Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant in our testing, frequently getting requests wrong, as well as only being able to recognise one Apple account at a time.
Siri has improved since 2018, but we’d like to see Apple ensure the HomePod 2 taps into Siri’s new capabilities and can better distinguish between its user’s voices and background voices, including those of a nearby TV.
Better sound controls
Setting up the HomePod is trivially easy, with the smart speaker automatically calibrating itself for the room it’s in. But some people might not like the sound balance the speaker comes up with; that’s tough luck, as there’s no easy way to tweak the audio equalisation.
We’d like to see the HomePod 2 allow for more granular user control, much like the Sonos One and Google Home Max do. Whether this means better controls in Apple Music or a dedicated HomePod app, more controls would be appreciated.
More music services
We appreciate Apple likes to keep its product and service ecosystem rather closed. But the HomePod only came with Apple Music integration at launch, which really limited its use. You can now access the likes of Spotify using the AirPlay function on an iPhone, but you’ll need your phone handy if you want to control the music settings.
This makes using third-party music services with the HomePod a clunky affair; Apple Music is decent, but if you’ve spent years curating Spotify playlists you might not want to abandon the service. So we’d like the HomePod 2 to be a little more open to accepting integrations with third-party music services.
This one is an obvious request, but better sound quality is always expected from a next-generation speaker. The HomePod produces excellent sound, but there’s still room for improvement; for example, some might find the punchy bass the HomePod produces takes a little away from the vocal performances of artists.
All that being said, we have no strong indication that Apple is working on a HomePod 2. But it seems to be busying itself with a lot of audio tech and has captured our attention with the AirPods Pro. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see it also create a news smart speaker to go alongside its audio tech lineup.