Apple today unveiled HomePod mini, the company’s most affordable, diminutive smart speaker at just 3.3 inches tall.
The Apple HomePod mini is very similar in design and features to the HomePod, simply smaller. It’s 3.3 inches tall, just under half the height of the HomePod. It too is covered in a mesh fabric cover (either white or space grey) and has a cylindrical shape, although its modest dimensions make it more spherical.
Siri is, of course, onboard for voice control, with three microphones listening out for that trusty old “Hey Siri” wake word. Apple Music is also at its core, complemented by iHeartRadio, radio.com and TuneIn radio services. In the coming months, Pandora and Amazon Music will be added, too.
Apple is promising “an audio experience unheard of at this size”, which it says it can deliver thanks to audio processing capability of the Apple S5 chip inside. A full-range driver and pair of passive radiators output, with an acoustic waveguide designed to direct the sound down and out toward the bottom of the speaker for a 360-degree soundfield – just like the HomePod’s approach.
“HomePod mini has everything customers want in a smart speaker — amazing sound for listening to music, a world-class intelligent assistant that delivers a personal experience to each member of the household, and like every Apple product, it’s designed with privacy and security in mind,” said Bob Borchers, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.
“HomePod mini is the ultimate smart speaker for anyone with an Apple device. It works effortlessly with iPhone to hand off music, answer calls, or deliver personalized listening suggestions, elevates the sound from Apple TV, plays music from a Mac, and so much more. There’s a lot of Apple innovation packed into such a small speaker, all at an affordable price.”
As you’d expect, the HomePod mini has been designed to work harmoniously within the Apple ecosystem. When a music-playing iPhone or iPad is brought close to the mini, they automatically hand off music to the speaker. Apple is promising to enhance this experience with visual, audible, and haptic effects when sound transfers from one device to the other.
When two minis are placed in the same room, they can automatically play in stereo pair, too. Lastly, the HomePod mini introduces a new ‘intercom’ feature, allowing family members to send messages between HomePods in the home as well as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods and CarPlay.
Apple and ‘affordable’ don’t always go hand-in-hand, but the HomePod mini has a modest price tag. While the HomePod’s price instantly set Apple’s smart speaker offering apart from the competition – the Amazon Echo and Sonos One, for example – this new second addition to the family looks to get right into the competitive mix.
Privacy and Security
Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of Apple hardware, software, and services. With HomePod mini, only after “Hey Siri” is recognized locally on the device, or the user activates Siri by touch, will any information be sent to Apple servers.
Requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID, and personal information is not sold to advertisers or other organizations. HomePod mini works with iPhone to complete requests for messages and notes on device without revealing that information to Apple.
Pricing and Availability
HomePod mini will be available in white and space grey for £99 from apple.com, in the Apple Store app, and Apple Store locations. HomePod mini is also available through Apple Authorized Resellers and select carriers (prices may vary).
Customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US are able to order HomePod mini beginning at 5 a.m. PST on Friday, November 6, with availability beginning the week of November 16. HomePod mini will be available in China, Mexico, and Taiwan later this year.