When I heard people on a podcast recently bash the new Apple HomePod second generation, I decided a rebuttal was needed. They thought that the new HomePod was a step backward because it used an Apple watch processor instead of an iPhone processor, and only had wifi N instead of wifi 6 or 6E.
It takes at least two or three years to design something new like the first generation HomePod, so Apple had to use the hardware they have when they began work on the project. When Apple began work on the original HomePod the Apple Watch was also just coming out, so the only processor chips they probably had a surplus of at the time were old iPhone SOCs which included the A8 processor.. They also had wifi AC or now called wifi 6 which were up to three times faster than wifi N now called wifi 5. The a8 also had a very nice GPU at the time, but totally useless in a smart speaker, so the original HomePod also probably drew more power than in needed.
When the HomePod Mini came out in November 2019 the Apple Watch had been out for a while, so Apple used the S5 SOC, which for a speaker made a lot more sense. No GPU required so not much wasted by the weaker GPU of the watch series 5, and all around it drew significantly less power than the original model.
Marco Arment as late as early 2023 complained how slow Siri was on the original large HomePod, and how much faster the 2019 HomePod Mini was running Siri. The watch SOCs also only have wifi 5 (N) but I never heard any complaints about it in the first generation HomePod Mini, but as soon as the second generation larger HomePod came out…
The S7 SOC used in the second generation large HomePod also has wifi N and like its little brother is also much faster running Siri. Some might complain that Apple Music is still slow, but I’m thinking that’s more a server problem. The most intensive file transfers a HomePod would ever do is lossless music, totally doable with wifi N, whereas wifi AC or anything newer would be. a complete waste and never utilized. Having a small GPU is also efficient since HomePods don’t have screens yet. When looking at what HomePods need, using smart watch chips actually make a lot of sense.
I have definitely jumped to wrong conclusions about technologies wondering why in the world someone would ever design something that way, because I didn’t understand the components that made up the product. I’m not picking on anyone who might make that mistake, I will probably make it again at some point. I just thought this post might help more people understand,, including me as I wrote this. . Understanding more is usually a good thing.