Apple outs $99 HomePod Mini with big sound and Siri smarts
Apple started its online event today with the 3.3-inch tall HomePod Mini. The new smart speaker has Siri built-in, as you’d expect, and can control your smart home devices too. It automatically integrates with the Home app for this purpose.
Siri on the HomePod Mini can recognize the voices of each member of your household, and can access the apps in your iPhone, to read and send messages and interact with various apps. It can also give you personal updates.
Intercom lets you quickly send a message from one HomePod to another in a different room, or in all rooms. This also works with every other Apple device and service, it will auto play on HomePod speakers and AirPods, while the other devices (including iPhones and CarPlay) will get notifications for each such message.
As usual Apple is focused on privacy, as such the company will only store your audio if you let it. The personal updates are only available for you at home, and everything is encrypted as you’d expect. The device works with Apple Music, iHeartRadio, radio.com, and TuneIn for now, while in the future Pandora and Amazon Music will be supported too.
The HomePod Mini has a backlit touch-sensitive top, with play, pause and volume controls. This illuminates when Siri is active. The speaker has a full range dynamic driver, as well as two high excursion passive radiators for some extra bass oomph. The Mini can deliver 360-degree sound. You can pair multiple HomePod Minis together.
It’s powered by the Apple S5 chip, which enables computational audio. This means that the speaker is constantly adjusting its loudness and dynamic range in real time based on what is playing. Later this year it will work with the U1 UWB chip in iPhones to understand when your handset is near, and give you a seamless handoff experience, complete with visual, audible, and haptic effects.
The HomePod Mini will be up for order in white and Space Gray on November 6 for $99, and it will start shipping on November 16.