Apple Executive Explains the HomePod’s Return to Market

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In a recent discussion, Apple’s VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello explains why the tech giant rereleased the full-sized HomePod. 

In March 2021, Apple announced that it was discontinuing the original full-sized HomePod after four years on the market. Instead, the company would now focus on the HomePod mini introduced the previous year, says the press release. 

However, Apple has changed its perspective on the full-sized HomePod. 

A few days ago, the Cupertino-based tech giant released a video to announce a second-generation full-sized HomePod with the same design as the original. Furthermore, the new smart speaker will start shipping to buyers tomorrow. 

So why did Apple bring back the OG HomePod? 

Well, Apple’s VP of hardware engineering, Matthew Costello, answers the question in an interview with TechCrunch. The Apple executive also offers fascinating insights into the second-ten HomePod’s limitations. 

Let’s dive right in. 

Why Apple Reintroduced the Full-Sized HomePod and its Wi-Fi 4 Limitation

Costello suggested that Apple had analyzed specific data from the HomePod mini and original HomePod. Then it repurposed that information into creating a new smart speaker that can attain several experience goals. 

“We deeply studied the learnings from the first HomePod and HomePod mini,” says the VP of hardware engineering. “And we introduced the new HomePod when it was able to achieve our broad range of experience goals.”

While the first-generation HomePod supports Wi-Fi 5, the newly-announced version uses Wi-Fi 4 connectivity. Unfortunately, Costello was unable to explain the reason for the step back. He noted that it should not affect performance. 

“HomePod features Wi-Fi 4 connectivity that allows us to target exactly what works best in the entire system,” Costello tells TechCrunch. “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.”

The Apple executive also explains why it’s impossible to pair the new HomePod with an original model. Costello says:  

“When creating a stereo pair, it’s important that the audio characteristics match for an optimal, balanced experience. The new HomePod delivers immersive, room-filling sound users love — with even more detail, clarity, and layers than the original HomePod — so we wanted the acoustical imaging to be as pure and consistent as possible from generation to generation.”

The second-generation HomePod launches on Friday in the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, U.K. Japan, and Australia. It’s currently available to pre-order for $299.

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