A smart, networked loudspeaker for music playback that also supports the in-house language assistant: That is the idea behind Apple's Homepods, which have been on the market since 2018 and were supplemented by the small Homepod Mini in 2020.

A year later, Apple stopped making the big Homepods.

This year they live again.

The Homepod 2 goes on sale on February 3rd.

We have already been able to try it out and listen to it.

Michael Spehr

Editor in the "Technology and Engine" department.

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Like its counterparts from Amazon or Google, the Apple speaker is not only a music player, but thanks to its connection to the manufacturer's ecosystem, it is also able to announce the next appointments in the calendar and it connects to Apple Music or indirectly to Spotify to make music streaming as easy as possible.

You can specify the music to be played by voice command or hold the iPhone next to the loudspeaker while it is playing, which then takes over automatically.

Two Homepods can be connected to form a stereo pair.

Two out of five devices failed with a total loss

We have equipped our house with five Homepods and four Homepod Mini since 2018.

In addition, there are several dozen devices that, like the Homepod, rely on Apple's Homekit software substructure for home networking: sensors, switches, lamps and cameras.

Two of the five large Homepods failed over time for no apparent reason, and since their housing cannot be opened for repair, they have been stored defective ever since.

Using the remaining seven Homepods is not always easy either.

They often do not respond to voice commands or some remain silent.

Sometimes you first have to turn off the power or unplug all Homekit accessories with Thread networking technology before the speakers catch on again.

So we were excited to see how the new Homepod 2 would fare.

The first thing you notice after unpacking is that they look almost identical to the first generation, but are 200 grams lighter at 2.3 kilograms and two millimeters smaller with a height of 16.8 centimeters.

It remains with a textile outer skin made of mesh fabric, but the power cable can now be removed.

However, Apple has reduced its length from 1.80 to 1.50 meters.

The speakers do not have a built-in battery.

A lot of network technology brings with it many problems

The technical equipment has also been reduced: instead of seven tweeters, only five are used, and the number of microphones has been reduced from six to four.

Instead of Wifi 5 in Homepod 1, only Wifi 4 is supported.

The S7 chip of the Apple Watch Series 7 is used as the control center, the older model had the weaker A8 from the iPhone 6. Other plus points of the new release: The Homepod 2 masters Thread, has a U1 ultra-wideband chip and a sensor for measurement of temperature and humidity.

The Homepod 2 costs 350 euros.