Technology

HomePod Mini is Apple’s smaller, smarter, $99 smart speaker


Apple

After months of rumors and hypothesis, Apple on Tuesday announced a brand new, smaller sensible speaker referred to as the HomePod Mini at its iPhone-centered occasion. 

Apple’s HomePod debuted in 2018 with a $349 price ticket, great sound and the chance of placing white rings on your tabletop. Since then, regardless of some helpful iterations on the HomePod’s options by way of periodic software program updates, Apple hasn’t made a lot progress within the smart home, at the same time as Amazon and Google proceed to expand their audiences for Alexa and Google Assistant merchandise throughout the board. That modified right this moment with the reveal of a smaller, smarter speaker. 

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How large is the HomePod Mini?

The HomePod Mini is considerably smaller than its predecessor. Wrapped in a mesh material, it measures 3.Three inches tall and three.9 inches large (84 by 98 mm) and weighs 0.76 kilos (345 grams). By comparability, Amazon’s new, equally spherical fourth-gen Echo Dot is 3.5 inches tall, and Google’s puck-shaped Nest Mini is 1.65 inches tall.

Like the unique HomePod, the Mini contains a backlit contact floor for quantity and Siri controls. It will likely be obtainable in white and house grey, priced at $99 (£99, AU$149). That is the identical worth as the most recent (additionally spherical) Amazon Echo and Google’s model new Nest Audio, each of that are bigger than the HomePod Mini. 

What does the HomePod Mini sound like?

A smaller speaker possible means sound high quality can be much less spectacular than the stellar authentic HomePod (we’ll take a look at that out in our upcoming evaluation). Apple did equip the HomePod Mini with what it calls computational audio, nevertheless. Meaning it could retune itself over 180 occasions per second to optimize loudness and dynamic vary. Google’s Nest Audio and Nest Minis carry out related real-time audio tuning, because of their machine studying chip. 

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Apple

Streaming providers for the HomePod Mini will embody Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Radio.com and TuneIn at launch. Pandora and Amazon Music are slated for a future replace, though Spotify was conspicuously lacking from Apple’s presentation. The 2 corporations are embroiled in an antitrust investigation in Europe, sparked by a Spotify grievance filed final 12 months.

Different notable sound options embody help for multiroom audio and stereo pairing for 2 HomePod Minis, which is widespread for different sensible audio system. Two HomePod Minis will also be paired to your Apple TV for encompass sound, just like pairing two Echo Studio audio system and a Hearth TV.

What does the HomePod Mini add to HomeKit?

HomePod Mini brings just a few new smart home options to HomeKit. Apple introduced an Intercom function that, like Drop In on Amazon and Broadcast on Google sensible audio system, permits you to ship a voice message from one speaker to a different, or to a number of rooms. Different family members may also ask Siri to ship a reply to the published. 

What’s spectacular about Apple’s Intercom system is the number of units it could attain. Intercom messages additionally work with iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, CarPlay and AirPods. Whereas you need to use Google’s Broadcast from a cellphone, you possibly can’t broadcast to 1 and Amazon is out of the sport utterly with no Alexa-based cellphone. 

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HomePod Mini in house grey.


Apple/Screenshot by Mike Sorrentino/PJDM

CarPlay and the HomePod Mini work collectively to populate issues like navigation primarily based in your newest voice searches. The HomePod Mini additionally works together with your iPhone to present you one replace throughout all of your apps with one voice command. 

Relating to privateness, Apple guarantees that nothing you say is shipped out of your own home till you faucet for Siri or attain out by way of voice. It’s also possible to select whether or not Apple saves your audio recordings. Private requests will solely work when your iPhone is at residence with you, and requests are saved with Nameless ID.

Extremely Wideband 

Apple continues to give attention to convincing shoppers that its merchandise will respect the privateness of their house owners. Apple added a U1 chip to final 12 months’s iPhone 11, and right this moment we bought a greater take a look at what that chip means for smarts and safety round your own home. 

The U1 chip permits Extremely Wideband communication between geared up units, together with the brand new HomePod Mini. UWB measures the space between two units by calculating the time it takes for a radio wave to cross between them. This technique is rather more exact than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. 

Extremely Wideband can’t solely exactly find gadgets, however it could additionally talk information. What which means for HomeKit is not clear but, as Apple did not have something to say about UWB and sensible residence units. Along with the U1 chip, the HomePod Mini additionally works with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi four and Thread, a community protocol for low-power IoT units. 

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Apple

Nonetheless Siri

Even with a brand new design, worth enchancment and smarter software program, there’s nonetheless the difficulty of Siri as an assistant. In comparison with the ever-evolving and personable voice assistants from Google and Amazon, Siri falls quick.

Interactions simply feel less natural, and sometimes easy requests aren’t dealt with as seamlessly as Google or Alexa. Apple has improved Siri over the years, however even nonetheless, we have spent hours with all three and found there are some things Siri just can’t do

The HomePod Mini can be obtainable to order starting Nov. 6, with availability beginning the week of Nov. 16. Control PJDM for a full evaluation of Apple’s newest sensible speaker, comparisons with its opponents and extra within the coming days. 

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Author

Molly Price