Apple's original HomePod is one of the best smart speakers I've owned, delivering truly exceptional sound from Apple Music. I've got two, and I've also put some HomePod minis around the flat in rooms where I don't need such a big sound. But as much as I love both generations of HomePod, the news that Apple is bringing the original back – or at least adding a larger speaker to the range, which currently consists of just the mini – reminds me of the things that could make it seriously better. Here are three upgrades I'd like to see.
1. A swifter Siri
Siri just isn't as good as rival voice assistants. It's nice to have different voices to choose from – my Siri is a cheerful Irish woman – but it'd be nicer still if there wasn't such a long pause between me saying something and Siri responding. It'd be nice if Siri could hear better, too: I'll say something like "Hey Siri, turn the reading light on" and she'll reply "I'm sorry Carrie, the bedroom is not responding". I don't have a noisy flat or a thick accent, and other voice assistants don't have this problem: Alexa, for example, responds instantly and mostly accurately.
2. Real surround sound
While HomePods support Dolby Atmos, they don't deliver true surround sound: you can have a stereo pair connected to your Apple TV, but if you add more speakers they just play the same audio. A true surround mode would make the HomePods much more flexible, enabling you to have big ones near the TV and minis taking care of the rear channels.
And while we're at it, if Apple could make it easier to send music to multiple HomePods that'd be brilliant. It's rather clunky right now.
3. A sensible price
The original HomePods bombed because while they were great speakers, they were far too expensive for most of us: a HomePod was $349/£319. I bought mine for £100 less, and at that price I didn't feel I was paying an Apple Tax even though it's still more than the Amazon Echo, which is the best Amazon smart speaker you can buy right now. I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd be willing to pay around $200/£200 for a bigger, better HomePod compared to the £90 HomePod mini, but as Apple discovered first time around, £300+ seriously limits the number of people who'll buy your smart speakers. And with those devices acting as the gateway for smart home tech generally, that means fewer people embracing HomeKit. A better HomePod with a more sensible price makes sense as part of a wider smart home strategy.