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Apple HomePod mini finally gets one of its coolest features in new update

homepod mini
(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple HomePod mini has finally gained support for handoff functionality, which allows you to seamlessly transfer music, podcasts, and calls between your phone and the compact smart speaker

All you need to do is hold your iPhone near the HomePod mini, and as well as being able to transfer playback between the devices, you'll also see personalized listening suggestions and playback controls automatically appear on your screen. You won't even have to unlock your phone to adjust these settings.

Introduced with the arrival of iOS 14.4, the new feature will only work with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 lineups, as it uses the U1 ultra-wideband chip built into the phones and the HomePod mini itself. 

This chip allows your iPhone to detect when it's in close proximity to the smart speaker. Unfortunately, the original Apple HomePod doesn't contain the U1 chip, so this feature is restricted to the newer, smaller version of Apple's wireless speaker.

Apple HomePod Mini

(Image credit: Apple)

Enter the Apple ecosystem

While it's a shame that you won't be able to take advantage of the handoff feature without an iPhone 11 or 12, it's hardly unexpected that the Apple HomePod mini has been optimized to work within the company's own ecosystem. 

With Siri built-in, the smart speaker is designed to work with other Apple devices, with an Intercom feature that lets you tell Siri via your phone or HomePod to make announcements that are played on other HomePod speakers, AirPods, or iPhones in your home.

Apple-friendly features like this, alongside a great audio performance, is what makes the HomePod mini a great purchase for anyone who regularly uses iOS devices – and it's pretty affordable too, at $99 / £99 / AU$149. 

For non-Apple users – and if you don't have an Apple Music account – what you can do with the HomePod mini is fairly limited, and its ability to control your smart home devices isn't as polished as competitors like the Amazon Echo

Still, the introduction of this long-awaited feature will only enhance the HomePod mini experience for existing Apple users – and could even tempt owners of the smart speaker to splash out on an iPhone 11 or 12.

Via Engadget

Olivia Tambini

Olivia is TechRadar's Audio & Music Editor, covering everything from headphones to music streaming services. Based in TechRadar's London offices, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, Top Ten Reviews Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine.  In her spare time Olivia likes gardening, painting, and hanging with her cat Ethel and golden retriever Dora.