23 March 2021
Apple has officially launched a new but smaller smart speaker named HomePod Mini. As the name suggests, it has all the goodness of the main HomePod but in a compact size. It is also significantly cheaper than the standard model that puts it in the same price bracket as Google Home and Amazon Echo lineup of smart speakers.
The HomePod Mini features the same mesh fabric texture as the standard variant. The overall shape of the speaker is reminiscent of a bowl. Under the hood, it is powered by Apple's S5 chipset that brings computational audio performance. Apple says that chipset "works with advanced software to analyze the unique characteristics of the music and apply complex tuning models to optimize loudness, adjust the dynamic range, and control the movement of the driver and passive radiators in real-time".
The speaker has an array of three-microphones for listening to the keyword "Hey Siri". There is also an inward-facing microphone meant to isolate the sound coming from the speaker for improved voice detection. It has a display panel at the top for showing volume controls and alerting users whenever Siri is listening to them.
While the new HomePod is capable of all smart home stuff that you would expect, Apple has introduced a new Intercom feature. It will work if there are multiple HomePod speakers in the same house and they are connected to each other. The users will be able to send Intercom messages from one speaker to another. These messages will also appear on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and CarPlay but they would not be read out loud instantly like with HomePod or AirPods.
Apple has further assured about user privacy while using HomePod. It says "Hey Siri" detection will happen locally and once the user starts interacting with Siri further, it is then data will be shared with servers. The good thing is all requests made by a user are not linked to his Apple ID.
If interested, the HomePod Mini will cost you only $99. The pre-orders will begin November 6th and sales scheduled for November 16th. These details are for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US. All buyers from China, Mexico, and Taiwan will have to wait until late this year.