Apple today announced the HomePod mini, which features a new circular design, S5 chip, U1 Ultra wideband and new intercom feature. The New HomePod is available in white or black priced at $99/£99.
The HomePod mini stands at just 3.3 inches with a mesh woven fabric cover. It includes a touch surface on the top with playback controls and will glow when Siri is activated. While it does not have the same hardware inside as the original HomePod. The HomePod mini still features a full-range dynamic driver and two passive radiators for advanced bass response. It also packs an acoustic waveguide to provide clear, 360-degree audio playback.
The HomePod mini is powered by the Apple S5 chip, which helps drive the new computational audio features. These include complex tuning models that allow the speaker to optimise both loudness and dynamic range.
HomePod mini also supports AirPlay 2 multi-room capabilities, which means if you have multiple HomePod mini’s throughout your Home. The sound will play throughout the home in sync. When two HomePod minis are close to either other, they automatically form a stereo pair.
Later this year, Apple will deliver an update that will utilise the U1 Ultra wideband chip will enable a smoother Handoff experience. This will enable you to switch your music from phone to the HomePod mini seamlessly.
Siri gets better
Apple announced several new feature updates which will improve the way Siri works and connected third party services. HomePod already works with Apple services like Apple Music and Apple Podcasts But with a future software update Apple is bringing support for third party music services, like Amazon Music and Pandora. Although support for Spotify was not mentioned during the Apple Event.
Apple also announced new Siri features that will make the digital assistant much more responsive and intelligent. For example, Siri will can identify different people and carry out contextual actions. These features include tailoring music and podcasts and respond to personal requests, like accessing messages.
Privacy built into HomePod Mini
With HomePod mini, it only sends information to Apple servers once Siri is activated. Plus, information sent to Apple is not associated with the user’s Apple ID, nor is any personal information sold to any third party. To further protect user privacy, the personal request feature will only work if the user’s iPhone is within the home in which the HomePod mini is located.
HomeKit Controls and New Intercom System
Although the current HomePod can act as a Home hub. The HomePod mini makes controlling smart home accessories more affordable than ever. Using simple voice commands, Siri can control smart devices such as lights, locks and more.
The HomePod mini can also act as a HomeKit hub enabling HomeKit Secure Video with supported smart cameras. HomePod mini can analyse the feeds of your supported video cameras looking for presence of people, pets, and cars. All video processing is done right on device itself before it’s sent end-to-end encrypted to iCloud.
Apple also announced a new Intercom feature offers a quick and easy way for family members to connect with each other at home. One person can send an Intercom message from one HomePod. Their voice will automatically play on the designated HomePod speaker, or all speakers depending on the instruction given to Siri. Intercom messages will also appear on connected iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch and CarPlay. Additionally intercom messages will play through AirPods and allow the user to reply.
Although Apple didn’t mention this in the presentation today. After looking deeper into the specs, the new HomePod mini includes thread wireless capabilities. Thread is an IPv6-based, low-power mesh networking technology for IoT products, intended to be secure and future-proof. The Connected Home over IP project (CHIP), have been working on a royalty-free standard to promote interoperability in home connectivity, leveraging Thread. So this could be the first sign that CHIP is making progress and thread could be part of that move forward.
HomePod mini Pricing and Availability
HomePod mini will be available in white and space gray for $99/£99. It will be available to customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US. Preorders of the HomePod mini beginning Friday, 6th November. Shipping will start week beginning the 16th November.