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Today marks the release of the HomePod 2, but it’s just for diehard Apple lovers

The second-generation HomePod from Apple can be purchased today and picked up in shops in the United States and the United Kingdom. Should you, nevertheless, purchase Apple’s smart speaker in its unexpectedly updated second version? Only if you’re completely committed to using only Apple products.

According to our analysis, no single speaker can compete with the Apple HomePod 2 in terms of quality for the same price. We also advise using two of them together in a stereo system if you can afford to do so (for a total cost of $299/£299/AU$479). You may order a HomePod 2 via the Apple Store today, although home deliveries are still delayed. However, you can pick up your HomePod 2 from an Apple retail store immediately.

As with its predecessor, the second-generation HomePod has just a small but dedicated fan base three years after its debut. It doesn’t much better than the original or address its primary problems, including the absence of Bluetooth connection.

As a result, the HomePod 2 is once again picky about the source of its audio input. In actuality, Apple AirPlay 2 via Wi-Fi or Siri are the only two methods of playing music. This severely restricts your options if you live with someone whose primary gadget is an Android one, since the only device capable of sending audio is an Apple one.

However, if you mostly use iOS devices and are interested in Apple Music’s Dolby Atmos capabilities, the HomePod 2 is your best bet. Fans of Apple may be certain that this is the most intelligent smart speaker currently available.

The HomePod 2’s new temperature and humidity sensors, as well as its support for the Matter smart home standard, show some promise, but we weren’t especially impressed by them in our testing. Even still, we’re intrigued by the smart home possibilities of the speaker, which may be one of the key reasons Apple has brought it back.

What’s the deal with the HomePod’s comeback?

Apple seldom reintroduces a product that it has previously said would be phased out within two years of its first announcement that it will no longer be produced. According to our Apple HomePod 2 review, the updated device doesn’t improve upon its predecessor or address its most glaring flaws, raising the question of why it was brought back at all.

Matthew Costello, Apple’s vice president of Hardware Engineering and Operations, recently told TechCrunch (opens in new tab) that Apple fans were just demanding it. Increasing demand for the bigger speaker’s greater output and fuller sound was something the company had seen, he added.

An odd argument, given that sales may be a reliable indicator of consumer interest in a product, and that the first HomePod was discontinued by Apple because of low demand. It’s also true that a few things have changed over the previous few years that make a full-size HomePod once again tempting.

For starters, both lossless and Dolby Atmos spatial audio are now available for listening on Apple Music. The latter is ideal for Apple TV users, since a pair of HomePod 2s can replace even the greatest soundbars by reflecting sound off the walls to create more space between the instruments.

In addition, last November witnessed the introduction of the Matter 1.0 smart home standard. In this way, the HomePod 2 and other compatible devices may communicate with one another, regardless of brand or whether they use Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant.

Apple’s new HomePod 2 is an integral element of its plan to integrate with your Matter-enabled smart home. While we wait for things to happen, we can enjoy the new HomePod’s well-balanced and detailed audio.