The HomePod was discontinued after simply three years available on the market, however Apple isn’t giving up on its sensible speaker ambitions. Launched in 2020 alongside the iPhone 12, the HomePod mini was meant to be a smaller various to Apple’s high-priced, high-fidelity speaker, however now it’s the one recreation on the town. And if you wish to arrange a Siri-based sensible house, it’s important.
The newest information and rumors
An August report by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg states that Apple is engaged on a number of new sensible gadgets, however he didn’t say something regarding the HomePod mini. Apple could also be releasing a brand new full-sized HomePod for 2023, in addition to a speaker with an iPad-like show and an Apple TV with a digital camera, each for 2024.
Dimension and design
The HomePod mini nonetheless has the mesh grill exterior accessible in area grey or white, nevertheless it has a wholly totally different form than the HomePod. It’s a sphere somewhat than a cylinder, and its look is considerably harking back to the mesh-protected apples you would possibly discover on the grocery store and isn’t a lot larger. The HomePod mini measures 3.3 inches tall, lower than half the peak of the HomePod, nevertheless it feels even smaller than that in individual. Your entire prime is a show, nevertheless it’s primarily for Siri and standing lights and might be arduous to see from throughout the room. Like the unique HomePod, the mini’s twine is completely hooked up and considerably rigid, however irrespective of the place you set your HomePod mini, it’s actually a press release piece.
Audio system and microphones
Whereas it would look small and unpowered, the HomePod mini is definitely simply as succesful because the bigger mannequin, whereas its dimension signifies that it has fewer audio system and microphones than the bigger mannequin. As Apple describes, the HomePod mini has a “full-range driver, powered by a neodymium magnet and a pair of force-canceling passive radiators,” however its sound isn’t practically as deep because the bigger HomePod. It’s notably missing in bass, which was the unique HomePod’s strongest go well with, however the mini continues to be lots highly effective sufficient to fill a room with sound, particularly when you choose up a pair of them and set them up as stereo audio system on an iOS system or Apple TV.
For the reason that HomePod mini is a Siri system, it has three microphones which might be at all times listening for voice prompts, in addition to an inside mic to assist isolate the speaker’s sound so it could hear the “Hey Siri” command even whereas taking part in music. Apple makes use of the S5 chip to course of the sound, the identical processor within the Apple Watch SE.
Even with a pair of audio system, nevertheless, the HomePod mini doesn’t assist Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital 7.1, or Dolby Digital 5.1 encompass sound just like the bigger HomePod.
Apple Music and different streaming providers
The HomePod mini best energy is taking part in music, and when you’re an Apple Music subscriber, it’s a superb companion. It additionally works effectively with the Apple Podcasts app, and radio stations from iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn. Through the HomePod mini announcement, Apple teased assist for third-party music providers, however up to now solely Pandora is supported. The Google Residence and Amazon Echo each assist Amazon Music and Spotify, so it stands to purpose that extra providers are on the way in which.
Just like the full-sized HomePod, HomePod mini depends on Siri as its principal interface, utilizing voice instructions to play music and podcasts, management sensible house gadgets, and reply normal data questions. You can too use Siri for private updates, reminiscent of asking about your schedule, the climate, site visitors, and reminders in addition to any Siri Shortcuts made in your iPhone or iPad.
Apple continues to guard your privateness whereas utilizing Siri. Siri requests are despatched to Apple’s servers solely when Siri is activated, and people requests should not related along with your Apple ID. Apple additionally says it doesn’t promote your private data to 3rd events. It does, nevertheless, retailer some nameless audio recordings to enhance the accuracy of Siri, however you possibly can opt-out within the Privateness tab in Settings in your iPhone. You can too delete your complete Siri historical past in the identical tab.
Apple allows you to arrange a tool as a house hub to manage HomeKit gadgets remotely from a central location, and the HomePod mini is probably the most economical of the choices. And the great thing about it’s you don’t truly need to do something to set it up. When you signal into your iCloud account, your HomePod mini will routinely arrange as a house hub so something you add to the Residence app will be capable of be managed whenever you’re not round. You’ll additionally be capable of create scenes and automations primarily based on time or location that do issues like activate the lights whenever you get house or shut them off with a easy command.
Along with taking part in music and summoning Siri, HomePod has a nifty Intercom characteristic that permits you to ship and obtain messages from one HomePod mini to a different, or an iPhone, iPad, iPod contact, Apple Watch, and CarPlay-connected automobile. If you ask Siri to “Intercom” or “ask everybody,” it can show an alert on all accessible gadgets with Intercom turned on and supply an audio recording that may be performed. Oddly, the Mac isn’t a part of the Intercom characteristic.
U1 Extremely-wideband chip
The HomePod mini has Apple’s U1 chip, which gives the system with ultra-wideband, a radio communication know-how that makes use of little or no energy, works in a brief vary and has a excessive bandwidth. The U1 permits for some cool iPhone methods as effectively. You possibly can “hand off” music playback out of your iPhone to the brand new HomePod, in addition to obtain pop-up media controls with out having to unlock your iPhone. You can too get personalised listening recommendations in addition to visible, audible, and haptic results when transferring sound between gadgets.
However Apple probably has a lot larger plans for the U1 chip. It may create an API that lets sensible system makers faucet into the U1 chip and create automations and interactions that don’t want an app to be put in. Or it may faucet into Siri Shortcuts to generate room-based responses and actions from HomeKit gadgets with out calling on Siri to behave. There are tons that Apple can do with the HomePod mini’s U1 chip, so we’ll have to attend and see what arrives in future updates.
Nevertheless, to make use of these options, you’ll want gadgets which might be geared up with the U1, in accordance with Apple’s HomePod mini web site. Which means you want an iPhone 11 or later. Older iPhones gained’t be capable of carry out these options.
Value, availability, and system compatibility
The HomePod mini is $99 USD, and is obtainable in area grey, white, blue, yellow, and orange.
HomePod mini is suitable with the next gadgets:
- iPhone 6s or later
- iPhone SE
- iPod contact (seventh era) operating iOS 14
- iPad Professional, iPad (fifth era or later)
- iPad Air 2 or later
- iPad mini 4 or later operating iPadOS 14
If you happen to’re trying to arrange an Apple sensible house, there are three choices for a hub—an iPad, Apple TV, and HomePod mini. At $99, the HomePod mini is probably the most economical of the bunch and it’s a wise speaker, so you possibly can ask it to carry out actions and routines identical to an Amazon Echo system. HomeKit gadgets have gotten cheaper and extra prevalent, so organising an Apple sensible house is simpler than ever particularly with a HomePod mini to manage all of it. It doesn’t sound pretty much as good as the unique HomePod, nevertheless it’s nonetheless higher than an Echo Dot, and for $99, it’s vital system.