Apple has announced a new version of the HomePod smart speaker, the $99 HomePod mini, which is a smaller version of the original model down to a smaller size.
Like the full-size HomePod, the HomePod mini still has a black and white mesh fabric exterior with a small display on the top showing Siri waveforms and volume controls. However, the new model is short and spherical rather than the original rectangular design, with 1 main driver, 2 passive radiators and a “sound waveguide” at the bottom.
The new HomePod mini is equipped with an Apple S5 chip, and Apple says its “computer audio” processing allows you to tweak how your music sounds 180 times per second. Multiple HomePod mini speakers can also play synchronized music, and placing them in the same room can create a “intelligently” stereo pairing. Apple is also using the U1 chip that debuted on the iPhone last year to create a better handoff experience later this year.
Also coming later this year: Apple has pledged support for third-party music services, a list to include Pandora, Amazon Music, and iHeartRadio, but excluding Spotify.
Apple also introduced a new “Intercom” feature that allows customers using multiple HomePod devices in different rooms to communicate throughout the house. Intercom messages also appear on connected iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches (although they don’t play loudly as immediately as on the HomePod mini).
The original HomePod, when first launched in 2018, costs $349, much more expensive than Amazon’s Echo or Google Home speakers. That high price combined with the original’s Apple-only restrictions (which only worked on Apple Music, an issue Apple fixes only with iOS 14 this fall) made it particularly cheaper and harder to sell compared to more. Possible Google and Amazon alternatives.
And while Apple will eventually cut the price of the original HomePod (now it usually sells for $199), it’s still expensive. The new HomePod mini offers similar features as the original, but will help change it for a much tastier price point.
That’s a big deal because HomePod isn’t just a smart speaker. It serves as a central hub. For all HomeKit devices, you can control things like lights or doors when the user is away from home, as well as enable automation features for Apple’s Home app. More accessible HomePods not only give Apple more ways to bring Siri and Apple Music to people’s homes, but it also helps expand Apple’s entire presence as part of a smart home setup.
The HomePod mini is $99. Pre-orders start on November 6th and ships on November 16th.
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