Technology

HomePod Mini is here, and Apple’s new smart speaker is only $99


Apple/Screenshot by Mike Sorrentino/PJDM

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple unveiled a brand new HomePod Mini smart speaker at its October iPhone event on Tuesday, giving it a model new piece of {hardware} to pit in opposition to Amazon, Google and others within the race to carry voice management into our houses. Powered by Apple’s Siri voice assistant, the HomePod Mini is smaller than the original 2018 model, and it comes with a lower cost tag of $99 (£99, AU$149).

With Google having already launched its personal new smart speaker this vacation season, and Amazon’s new Echo line-up on the way in which quickly, Apple’s new speaker goals to persuade customers to think about an alternative choice to the Google Assistant– and Amazon Alexa-based options that at the moment dominate the section. The sphere-like machine, which was launched alongside the brand new iPhone 12, incorporates a acquainted mesh overlaying, together with a contact floor with controls on its flat high for quantity, play and pause.

Apple says it has mixed a strong voice assistant with the identical glorious sound high quality within the unique HomePod. Moreover, the machine’s privateness options will mirror the way in which Apple configures the original HomePod. It will not tie your requests and conversations with Siri to your Apple ID, offering a type of anonymization, and the info can be encrypted, Apple says.

“There’s a variety of Apple innovation packed into such a small speaker, all at an reasonably priced worth,” Bob Borchers, Apple’s vp of worldwide product advertising, stated within the announcement. The product was unveiled at an Apple occasion filmed on the firm’s Silicon Valley headquarters and held nearly on Tuesday.

The machine can be out there for order on Nov. 6, in accordance with Apple, and it’ll begin delivery the week of Nov. 16. The lower cost units it other than the unique HomePod, which is priced at $299 within the US (although it may possibly usually be discovered discounted to $199). Amazon and Google have sensible audio system in that lofty worth vary as nicely, however most of their market share comes from audio system within the $50 worth vary. That prime worth is without doubt one of the components that has restricted gross sales for the HomePod, making it tougher for Apple to achieve a foothold for Siri as a family voice assistant.

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Apple says the HomePod Mini has an “acoustic waveguide to direct the circulate of sound down and out towards the underside of the speaker for an immersive 360-degree audio expertise.”


Apple

To justify the upper worth of the unique HomePod, Apple pitched it as a high-end shelf speaker. The primary HomePod largely delivered on that promise, however that positioning additionally helped protect Siri from an excessive amount of scrutiny as a conversational voice assistant subsequent to the superior Alexa and Google Assistant.

The lower cost and smaller dimension aren’t the one adjustments revealed within the HomePod Mini. The speaker may even work with outdoors music streaming providers, together with Pandora and Amazon, within the coming months. This integration units the HomePod Mini other than the unique HomePod, which was restricted to Apple Music for voice-controlled streaming.

Homepod Mini

The brand new HomePod Mini is available in house grey and white.


Apple

Nonetheless, the HomePod Mini clearly goals to work with Apple services, and connects the speaker to the apps working on iPhones. The objective is to let customers ask Siri easy questions on the speaker that pull solutions from iPhone apps, stated Yael Garten, Apple’s director of science and engineering for Siri.

“What actually units HomePod Mini aside is its deep integration with iPhone,” Garten stated.

The machine additionally goals to let customers management the sensible house with their voices. This builds off Apple HomeKit, the corporate’s platform for sensible house units that may now join with HomePod Mini.

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Apple additionally included HomePod Mini options geared towards tempting individuals to purchase a couple of machine. A number of audio system can sync music in several components of a house, and when two audio system are collectively, they go into stereo mode. The corporate stated this can complement the prime quality sound delivered by its “computational audio” system, which analyzes music and adjusts tuning and different audio options to optimize the sound.

Lastly, the machine is positioned as a family-friendly addition to the house. The Intercom function, which resembles Google’s Broadcast function, lets customers ask Siri on their telephones to play a message on the sensible speaker for individuals in different rooms to listen to. The recipient can ship a message again by voice, too. The HomePod Mini may inform the distinction between completely different family members’ voices and personalize responses again to them.

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Author

Laura Hautala