If you’re not one of the many avid fans that sit waiting in anticipation for Apple’s hardware or software events, you could be forgiven for being unaware of Apple’s latest offering regarding HomeKit – namely the HomePod Mini – and yes, just like its larger sibling, it’s a fully-fledged HomeKit device, so it can act as a Home Hub, you can control HomeKit devices and trigger shortcuts via the built-in Siri, and it is, of course, a speaker with AirPlay 2 capabilities. Add to that the new Intercom feature and an amazingly low price tag (for Apple at least) of just US$99/UK£99, and you’ve got something that pretty much stole the show at yesterday’s ‘Hi, Speed’ event, that also unveiled new iPhones, as expected.
The New HomePod Mini comes in White or Space Grey, like the full-sized HomePod, offers ‘360º sound’ that uses Apple’s new Computational Audio functionality, an animated light display with touch controls on the top, has Siri built-in so you can not only call up music and other audio sources but also control your smart home devices. If you have two in the same room, they will create a stereo pair, and if you choose to have them dotted around the home, with one in each room, you can take advantage of AirPlay 2, to have your music playing throughout the whole house in sync.
Siri on the HomePod mini can also differentiate up to six different voices, so anyone in the family will be able to use voice control to turn on lights, turn off the AC, or set a special scene involving your HomeKit enabled TV. Apple has also introduced ‘Intercom’ which, as the name implies, makes all HomePods Mini (and we assume via an update to the HomePods too) makes them work like an intercom, so you can send a message to an individual room or everyone in the house.
What may come to pass down the line, with the use of the built UWB (Ultra Wide Band) chip, is that the person sending an ‘Intercom’ message could direct it at a particular person, who can be accurately located via a compatible iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, so wherever they are in the home, the nearest HomePod to them would relay that message. UWB can accurately pinpoint your location within centimetres, as long as you have a product with the UWB chip inside like the iPhone 11 and 12, for example.
Finally, because the HomePod Mini also acts as a Home Hub, processes that involve the analysis of video feeds from your HomeKit Secure Video enabled cameras will also be performed on the mini, just like the regular HomePod, making this one of the most powerful and cheapest Home Hubs from Apple ever, when you compare it to the price of Apple TV or HomePod.
You can learn more about HomePod Mini on Apple’s site.