Apple's HomePod sounds fantastic but the common criticism was that the implementation of Siri leaves a little to be desired.

The sales of Amazon Echo and Google Home devices show that there's a huge market for smart speakers but Apple will surely have to produce a second-generation HomePod to compete with its rivals.

Here we're checking out what we want to see from a second-gen device - which could be a direct replacement or it could be a lower-priced secondary device for elsewhere in the home - as well what rumours have appeared so far and when a HomePod 2 or cheaper HomePod might be released.

Apple HomePod 2 release date and price

  • Cheaper model due 2020
  • Hopefully under £200

The Apple HomePod was released in early 2018 and costs £319, which is quite a bit more than the Amazon Echo and Google Home alternatives it competes against.  

It's been reported a cheaper model will be revealed "as early as next year", but there's been no word on how much it might cost. We're hoping for a sub £200model though. 

Apple HomePod 2: What we want to see

This is a run down of the features we'd like to see appear on the next Apple HomePod.

Recognising different voices

It's coming in iOS 13 for HomePod but we still want it now. According to Apple at WWDC, the feature will allow you to access your playlists, reminders and calendar appointments based on your voice.

That's going to be perfect if you share your HomePod with others, and should mean that others in your house can't destroy your finely tuned music tastes with hours of Disney classics. 

A lower price point

It's a fact that Apple is currently occupying the somewhat lofty end of the smart speaker market. The problem is that, currently, smart speaker sales are being powered by quantity – Google Home Mini for £29/$29-type deals, for example – not quality.

That's something that Apple will have to reconcile. By the time HomePod is the best option, our homes may already be dedicated to either Amazon or Google. This isn't a problem unique to Apple, either – the mysterious and still-upcoming Samsung Galaxy Home is also in the same position.

Bluetooth support

Apple seemed to try and suppress Bluetooth in early iterations of iOS – it was really buried in the Settings app, perhaps because Apple wanted users to use its own AirPlay tech instead. It's not like that nowadays – Bluetooth is front and centre just as it is in Android.

It's therefore a little odd that the first HomePod doesn't support devices connecting to it via Bluetooth, especially when – get this – we know HomePod actually has Bluetooth inside and uses it for the setup process. The lack of Bluetooth is very restrictive for many homes – especially when you consider the HomePod is a device designed for a communal space.

Gesture control

This one has been rumoured already – a patent suggests that an upcoming HomePod will have gesture control as an alternative to voice. We're thinking this is probably going to be for basic stuff such as changing the volume or skipping to the next track.

This would be a far more agreeable approach rather than adding unnecessary buttons.

A better Siri

The problem with Siri on HomePod is that it's not been given license to fly – some essentials are missing, such as support for internet radio apart from Apple's own Beats 1 and there's little doubt that Siri lags behind the flexibility of Google Assistant and the bulletproof though Amazon-focused Alexa.

Still, we've no doubt that Apple will get Siri right – after all, this is one of the world's most resourceful companies we're talking about.

Spotify Connect support

OK so this falls into the "it’ll never happen" category but bear with us while we dream of HomePod being the best Spotify Connect speaker out there.

However, with Apple understandably wanting to push Apple Music, it's mighty unlikely. Apple isn't averse to its services coming to other devices though – Apple Music is now on Amazon Echo devices, for example.

An Apple HomePod Mini

There's the Google Home Mini. There's the Amazon Echo Dot. What about a better-sounding speaker called the HomePod Mini? It could still be relatively premium – maybe $99/£99 or $129/£129 to go up against the Amazon Echo Plus?

Whereas we don't think the HomePod has sold that well, we could see a sensibly priced (not necessarily cheap) HomePod would do pretty well.

Wireless Qi charging

Apple's AirPower still isn't here, but we think it will be soon. Why couldn't HomePod 2 have wireless charging on the top? The challenge – as with AirPower – is that it would need to be multi-coiled to not just charge Qi-compatible devices like the iPhone XS, XS Max, X, 8, 8 Plus and XR, but also to charge the Apple Watch and AirPods 2 as well.

HomePod as a surround system

You can already stereo pair HomePods, of course, but what if there was HomePod Mini and also a subwoofer and you could sync it all up into a system to go with your Apple TV? Now there's a thing.

Apple HomePod 2 rumours: What's reported to be coming?

Here's everything we've heard so far regarding a second-gen HomePod 2, including what is expected to arrive on the new speaker.

22 August 2019: Bloomberg report details cheaper HomePod features

A Bloomberg report, written by Mark Gurman, has detailed several features expected to come on Apple's unreleased devices, including a cheaper HomePod. 

According to Gurman: "Apple is also working on a cheaper HomePod for as early as next year. The current $300 model hasn't sold very well. The new model is likely to have two tweeters (a type of loudspeaker), down from seven in the current HomePod." 

8 February 2019: Could the next-gen Apple HomePod feature hand gestures and Face ID?

A granted patent application suggests the next-gen HomePod could have facial recognition and control via hand gestures. 

As with all such patents that appear online after they lose confidential status, it was originally submitted a while ago - back in 2017 in this case. And while the HomePod isn't explicitly mentioned, it's pretty clear that that's what the patent is referring to.

21 May 2018: Apple's cheaper HomePod may carry Beats branding

A report from Apple's supply chain, via Chinese site Sina, has claimed a cheaper version of the HomePod speaker may carry Beats branding.

The report also said Apple is having talks with MediaTek about producing the new model, which would cost $199 when it goes on sale. 

8 March 2018: A smaller, cheaper Apple HomePod could be on the way

The Taiwanese Economic Daily and Mac Okatara both claimed that Apple planned to launch a more affordable version of the Siri-enabled speaker in the second half of 2018 for between $150 - $200. Of course that never happened, but that's not to say it won't.