Today, Apple announced the new HomePod Mini smart speaker, which is the smaller and more affordable version of the full-sized Apple HomePod. The Mini costs just $99. You can order yours on November 6, and it will start shipping on November 16. Improved audio and Siri integrations make it a seriously impressive competitor to the Amazon Echo.
The HomePod Mini has a compact spherical design that’s even more adorable than the full-sized HomePod. It’s a modern mesh fabric exterior that comes in both White and Space Gray colors, as well as a backlit touch surface where you can adjust volume. It even illuminates when you activate Siri.
The smart speaker has the U1 chip that enables Ultra Wideband support. The chip allows devices to communicate with each other, enabling actions like moving music from your phone to the speaker by simply holding your phone near the speaker. Also, it allows multiple speakers in a room to automatically pair and play music in stereo.
The new Mini has one primary driver, two passive radiators for better bass response, and an acoustic waveguide at the bottom for 360 sound so it’ll sound good no matter where you set it in a room. Coming soon is support for Pandora and Amazon Music, something that Apple has lacked.
Apple emphasized improvements to Siri with the HomePod Mini, bringing Siri much closer in line with competing services such as Google Assistant. It is now faster, offers more concise answers, and is more intelligent, allowing you to do things like search for songs by lyrics. Also a big deal, and something that many smart assistants have struggled with, is multi-user support. The HomePod Mini can easily recognize individuals in your family and offer personalized suggestions and responses for them.
There is deeper integration with your iPhone with app access, allowing you to send messages, hear your daily updates, and even push suggestions to CarPlay based on your requests. So you’ll be able to ask Siri something like “What time does Target close?” and CarPlay will automatically have the route to Target pulled up and ready to go when you get in your car.
The HomePod Mini has improved Smart Home integration, offering more comfort and convenience without complexity. Scenes will let you control multiple smart devices at once, similar to Google Assistant Routines. Simple voice controls let you dim lights, lock doors, and change the temperature.
The Mini also works as an intercom system, allowing you to send messages to other speakers in the house. This feature even works from your phone, letting you talk to the people in your house while you’re out and about. This extends to CarPlay and works on AirPods so no matter where your family is or what they’re doing.
Security is always important to Apple, so naturally the HomePod Mini was designed with that in mind. Requests are never associated with an Apple ID, you can decide whether or not your requests are saved at Apple, and every request is protected with strong encryption.
The HomePod Mini retails at just $99, and is available in White and Space Gray. Despite its small size, it packs a punch with its improved design for playing music, deep Siri integration, and excellent Intercom function. You can order yours on November 6 from Apple.