The HomePod was discontinued after simply three years available on the market (get it now whereas provides final), however Apple isn’t giving up on its smart speaker ambitions. Released final September 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 sport on the town. And if you wish to arrange a Siri-based smart home, it’s important.
Size and design
The HomePod mini nonetheless has the mesh grill exterior out there in area grey or white, nevertheless it has a completely totally different form than the HomePod. It’s a sphere reasonably than a cylinder, and its look is considerably paying homage to the mesh-protected apples you may 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. The complete prime is a show, nevertheless it’s primarily for Siri and standing lights and might be onerous to see from throughout the room. Like the unique HomePod, the mini’s wire is completely hooked up and considerably rigid, however irrespective of the place you place your HomePod mini, it’s actually a assertion piece.
Speakers and microphones
While it’d 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 almost as deep because the bigger HomePod. It’s significantly missing in bass, which was the unique HomePod’s strongest swimsuit, however the mini remains to be lots highly effective sufficient to fill a room with sound, particularly in case you choose up a pair of them and set them up as stereo audio system on an iOS machine or Apple TV.
Since the HomePod mini is a Siri machine, it has three microphones which might be at all times listening for voice prompts, in addition to an inner mic to assist isolate the speaker’s sound so it may possibly 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 power is taking part in music, and in case you’re an Apple Music subscriber, it’s a wonderful companion. It additionally works effectively with the Apple Podcasts app, and radio stations from iHeartRadio, Radio.com, and TuneIn. During the HomePod mini announcement, Apple teased assist for third-party music providers, however to this point solely Pandora is supported. The Google Home and Amazon Echo each assist Amazon Music and Spotify, so it stands to purpose that extra providers are on the best way.
Like the full-sized HomePod, HomePod mini depends on Siri as its fundamental interface, utilizing voice instructions to play music and podcasts, management smart home gadgets, and reply basic information questions. You may also use Siri for private updates, comparable to 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 together 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 may opt-out within the Privacy tab in Settings in your iPhone. You may also delete your complete Siri historical past in the identical tab.
Apple allows you to arrange a machine as a home hub to manage HomeEquipment gadgets remotely from a central location, and the HomePod mini is essentially the most economical of the choices. And the fantastic thing about it’s you don’t truly should do something to set it up. Once you signal into your iCloud account, your HomePod mini will mechanically arrange as a home hub so something you add to the Home app will be capable of be managed whenever you’re not round. You’ll additionally be capable of create scenes and automations based mostly on time or location that do issues like activate the lights whenever you get home or shut them off with a easy command.
In addition to taking part in music and summoning Siri, HomePod has a nifty Intercom function that allows 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. When you ask Siri to “Intercom” or “ask everyone,” it can show an alert on all out there gadgets with Intercom turned on and supply an audio recording that may be performed. Oddly, the Mac isn’t a part of the Intercom function.
U1 Ultra-wideband chip
The HomePod mini has Apple’s U1 chip, which supplies the machine with ultra-wideband, a radio communication expertise that makes use of little or no energy, works in a quick vary and has a excessive bandwidth. The U1 permits for some cool iPhone tips as effectively. You 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 may also get personalised listening ideas in addition to visible, audible, and haptic results when transferring sound between gadgets.
But Apple possible has a lot larger plans for the U1 chip. It may create an API that lets smart machine 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 HomeEquipment 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.
However, to make use of these options, you’ll want gadgets which might be geared up with the U1, based on Apple’s HomePod mini web site. That means you want an iPhone 11 or later. Older iPhones gained’t be capable of carry out these options.
Price, availability, and machine compatibility
The HomePod mini is $99 USD, and is accessible in area grey and white within the following nations:
If you’re trying to arrange an Apple smart home, there are three choices for a hub—an iPad, Apple TV, and HomePod mini. At $99, the HomePod mini is essentially the most economical of the bunch and it’s a smart speaker, so you may ask it to carry out actions and routines similar to an Amazon Echo machine. HomeEquipment gadgets have gotten cheaper and extra prevalent, so establishing an Apple smart home is less complicated than ever particularly with a HomePod mini to manage all of it. It doesn’t sound nearly as good as the unique HomePod, nevertheless it’s nonetheless higher than an Echo Dot, and for $99, it’s a must-have machine.
Roman has lined expertise for the reason that early Nineties. His profession began at MacConsumer, and he is labored for MacAddict, Mac|Life, and TechTV.