A smaller version of the original Apple HomePod, the new smart speaker comes with a range of cool new features, including the ability to cast voice messages to Apple devices – including AirPods – in your home.
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Apple says that the new speaker can act as the "brain of your smart home", and has "privacy and security" at its forefront – with upgrades to Siri allowing for voice recognition and better integration with other Apple products.
It's not alone, either – Google and Amazon have both announced their own next-gen smart speakers, and the HomePod mini is set to go head to head with the Google Nest Audio and new Amazon Echo (2020) in the run up to the holiday shopping season.
Intrigued? Here's everything we know about the Apple HomePod mini so far:
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The latest Apple smart speaker, the HomePod mini.
- When will it be released? November 6, 2020.
- How much will it cost? $99 / £99 / AU$149.
Apple HomePod mini release date
Coming in white and space gray, the Apple HomePod mini will be available to buy from November 6, with shipping starting from November 16 – just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Apple HomePod mini price
The HomePod mini is set to cost $99 / £99 / AU$149.
That's far cheaper than the original Apple HomePod, which cost $349 / £319 / AU$499 when it launched in 2018 – and the launch of the new HomePod mini means you can expect some fantastic Apple HomePod deals this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
That pricing puts the HomePod mini in direct competition with the new Amazon Echo (2020), which costs $99.99 / £89.99 / AU$149 – and it also shares a fairly similar design.
It's not like Apple to price its products on the more affordable end of the spectrum – perhaps the company is anticipating that people will buy more than one unit (they do come with the ability to stereo pair, after all).
Apple HomePod mini design
At 8.5cm tall, the Apple HomePod mini looks like a smaller, squatter version of the original HomePod, with a spherical design that, as we mentioned, isn't dissimilar to the new Amazon Echo (2020).
How that smaller design will impact the sound of the HomePod Mini remains to be seen – after all, one of the best things about the original HomePod is its powerful, room-filling sound.
Like its predecessor, it's covered in a wraparound fabric mesh grille, and comes with a small display on the top that shows the Siri waveform and volume controls – this display lights up when you interact with the voice assistant.
As mentioned, it'll be available in white and space gray, just like the original HomePod.
Apple says the HomePod mini "utilizes 99% recycled rare earth elements, with the neodymium magnet in the speaker driver utilizing 100% recycled rare earth elements".
Meanwhile, the mesh fabric is made from "more than 90%" recycled plastic, while all the packaging wood fibers are from "responsibly managed forests or recycled sources".
Apple HomePod mini audio performance
Without testing the new HomePod mini, we can't say for sure how it will sound – but we can take a look at the specs on offer here.
According to Apple, the HomePod Mini delivers "an incredibly rich and detailed acoustic experience, using computational audio to deliver peak performance".
To compensate for its smaller build compared to the original HomePod, the new smart speaker contains the Apple S5 chip, which Apple says can "analyze the unique characteristics of the music and apply complex tuning models to optimize loudness, adjust the dynamic range, and control the movement of the driver and passive radiators in real time".
The HomePod Mini contains a full-range driver, which is powered by a neodymium magnet and a pair of passive radiators, which Apple says "enables deep bass and crisp high frequencies".
The new smart speaker takes some inspiration from its larger predecessor in the audio department. This includes an acoustic waveguide to direct sound down and out towards the bottom of the speaker, which Apple says creates "an immersive 360-degree audio experience".
This means you could theoretically place the HomePod Mini anywhere in your home, and the sound will remain consistent.
Also built into the HomePod mini is a three-microphone array that allows you to talk to Siri, as well as an inward-facing microphone that helps to isolate sound coming from the speaker, which enables improved voice detection when you're playing music.
Support for streaming services comes in the form of Apple Music (naturally), iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and "in the coming months", services like Pandora and Amazon Music. There was no mention of support for Spotify or Tidal, two of Apple Music's biggest rivals – it's unsurprising, but the lack of third-party streaming support was one of our biggest bugbears with the original HomePod, and it doesn't look like Apple is trying to rectify it.
It doesn't sound as though there's any Bluetooth support, which is slightly disappointing – having the option to quickly hook up your phone to your wireless speaker without buying into the Apple ecosystem would have been a cool touch.
If you buy multiple HomePod Mini speakers, you can play music or podcasts in different rooms in your house, all Apple says, in "perfect sync" – potentially posing a threat to multiroom audio giants like Sonos. Alternatively, you could place two HomePod minis in one room to create a stereo pair.
Apple HomePod mini smart home features
The HomePod mini comes with the brand's voice assistant Siri onboard, which means you can ask it questions, set reminders, get traffic updates, and more.
According to Apple, Siri can identify who in your household is speaking, and "tailor music and podcasts to their preferences, and respond to personal requests", like accessing messages from their connected iPhone.
Any Siri Shortcuts you create on your iPhone and iPad will be accessible on the HomePod Mini, so users can "ask Siri on HomePod mini to start a pot of coffee, control a robot vacuum, add milk to the grocery list, and more".
Siri can also play ambient sounds like rainfall to help you relax, help you find missing devices with the Find My feature, set music alarms, and deliver web results from voices searches straight to your iPhone.
With Siri built in, you can use the HomePod mini to control your smart home devices, whether you want to turn off your smart lights or change the temperature with your smart thermostat.
Apple's putting an emphasis on security and privacy with Siri, saying that information is only sent to Apple servers when the HomePod Mini recognizes the "hey Siri" wake word or the user activates Siri by touch.
Apple HomePod mini connectivity
You can use the HomePod mini with a range of Apple devices, whether you're answering a call from your connected phone, listening to music from your MacBook, or casting the sound of your Apple TV to the speaker.
One cool feature for iPhone users is that, when you're listening to music on your phone, you can simply bring your device close to HomePod mini and, according to Apple, "seamlessly hand off the music without missing a beat". The company says visual, audible, and haptic effects when sound transfers from one device to another are coming later this year.
As well as that, you'll get personalized listening suggestions on your iPhone when it's next to your Apple HomePod mini, as well as the ability to control the HomePod without unlocking your phone.
Perhaps most exciting of all is a new Intercom feature, which Apple says will offer "a quick and easy way for family members to connect with each other at home".
This allows you to send a message from one HomePod to another in the home, and your voice will automatically play on the designated HomePod speaker. Not only that, but you can send Intercom messages to iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, CarPlay, and even AirPods, so everyone can get the message, whether they're "in the backyard or on their way home".
It's clear that Apple wants to emphasize the reach of its smart home ecosystem – and the HomePod mini is yet another cog in the machine.