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Apple HomePod mini features secret sensor – but why?

HomePod mini
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple’s scaled-down smart speaker, the HomePod mini, contains a hidden sensor that can measure temperature and humidity – potentially unlocking new and exciting features for the device in the future.

A recent report from Bloomberg highlighted the previously undiscovered feature, describing a sensor which could allow “internet-connected thermostats [to] adjust different parts of a home based on current conditions.”

The hardware could also let the HomePod mini automatically engage other actions depending on temperature – such as activating a fan – which suggests the device might see a host of functionality upgrades in future software updates.

The tiny sensor, buried near the power cable of the HomePod mini, has been officially identified as a HDC2010 Humidity and Temperature Digital Sensor, according to analysis conducted by TechInsights.

The sensor’s placement suggests, when activated, its focus will be on the temperature of the external environment, as opposed to acting as an internal thermostat (which would presumably be placed more centrally within the device). 

A smarter smart speaker

The discovery could potentially spell good news for owners of the HomePod mini. At present, the device is unable to perform the temperature and humidity-reading functions permitted by the sensor, so it seems likely that Apple will introduce this functionality in a future software update.

Such an update would better integrate the smart speaker into already-smart homes, and bring it in line with other products which already offer this functionality, like the Amazon Echo (2020). Google, too, offers temperature-sensing devices with its range of Nest products.

The activation of the feature also makes sense for Apple HomeKit, which currently controls thermostats, lights, locks, plugs and other devices in the home, by creating a more well-rounded smart home package to be utilised across Apple’s future HomePod range.

The HomePod mini was released in 2020 as a follow-up to the now-discontinued Apple HomePod, which was unceremoniously ditched by the company recently. Both smart speakers have been criticised for their lack of comprehensive smart home integration compared to their rivals, so the introduction of new temperature-based functions could ensure the HomePod mini has a longer lifespan than its older sibling.

Via MacRumors