It might seem strange that Apple launched a 2nd-gen HomePod speaker that’s nearly identical to the first one, but there’s a simple reason why: People wanted it.
In an interview with Men’s Journal, Alice Chan, the company’s vice president of product marketing, says that following two years of the HomePod mini, Apple had “heard more interest than ever for the acoustics of a richer, larger speaker.” That’s why it decided to resurrect the original HomePod nearly two years after the device was discontinued.
Chan said Apple has “taken all the learnings from the original HomePod as well as HomePod mini and applied them to the new HomePod,” which is plain to see even without listening to one. The new model has a nearly identical design and similar specs to the original speaker, but adds smart home functionality, including a temperature and humidity sensor, as well as support for Thread.
Along with the newer parts, the new HomePod also features a very old Wi-Fi 4 chip from 2004. But in a separate interview with TechCrunch, Matthew Costello, vice president of hardware engineering and operations, says that’s all by design: “HomePod features Wi-Fi 4 connectivity that allows us to target exactly what works best in the entire system, making sure Siri requests are responsive and ensuring a consistent experience for all you are listening to, controlling your smart home accessories and more–all while being energy efficient.”
Despite not being updated since its debut in 2020, the HomePod mini recently gained support for its own temperature and humidity sensor, a rare major hardware upgrade for an existing product. However, with the revival of the original HomePod, it’s clear that Apple never really wanted the HomePod mini to carry the line. As Costello says, Apple’s engineering teams “really, really love this direction, in terms of the shape and the form” of the HomePod and according to Apple, lots of other people do too.