The Morning After: Apple’s HomePod returns with new smart home features


Apple discontinued its original HomePod smart speaker a few years ago. Now, we have a sequel. The company has resurrected the bigger unit with upgraded audio, a more powerful chip, more smart home abilities and, importantly, a lower price. The overall design, however, is mostly unchanged. Some will think it’s still a little pricey at $299, however.

The HomePod has room-sensing tech, so it can read sound reflections to determine its position (near a wall or in free space) and adjust the audio in real-time. There’s also Spatial Audio support. But the most interesting updates are its smart home tools. First, a feature called Sound Recognition can monitor for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and send an alert to your iPhone if it hears one. This tool will be available in a software update “later this spring.” Since the new smart home standard Matter is (almost) everywhere, the 2023 HomePod can connect to and control gadgets compatible with it. Apple added that any smart home communications are end-to-end encrypted by default, and the company can’t read them.

The new HomePod is and ships February 3rd. However, if you’re looking for something a little different, you could wait for a hub-styled smart home device. The latest rumors suggest Apple is working on an to go up against the likes of Google and Amazon.

– Mat Smith

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It says the program ‘has not grown to create the impact’ it was hoping for.

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Robot, fetch me my tools.

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Boston Dynamics showed off more of its Atlas robot’s stunning agility and dexterity in a new demo video, delivering a tool bag to a human at the top of some scaffolding. “This is more a demonstration of some of the robot’s new control capabilities, and a fun connection to our prior work,” Scott Kuindersma, Atlas team lead, said. “Our hope is that, if we can build the foundational technology that allows us to easily create and adapt dynamic behaviors like these, we should be able to leverage it down the road to perform real, physically demanding jobs.” The robot flips off the scaffolding at the end, too.

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