Apple has announced a new version of its Smart HomePod speaker, the $ 99 HomePod mini – a smaller version of the speaker that shrinks the original model into a more compact size.
Like the full-size HomePod, the HomePod mini still features a mesh outer fabric in black and white, along with a small display on top to show the waveform and volume of the Siri. The new model is more of a short, spherical shape, but instead of the elongated design of the original and has one main driver, two passive radiators and an “acoustic waveguide” underneath.
The new HomePod mini features an Apple S5 chip, which Apple says allows “computational audio” processing to adjust the way your music sounds 180 times per second. Several HomePod mini speakers can also play music in sync and “intelligently” create stereo pairing when placed in the same room. Apple also used the U1 chips that debuted on the iPhone last year to create a better Handoff experience later this year.
Coming later this year: Apple’s promised support for third-party music services, a list that will include Pandora, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio – but not Spotify in particular.
Apple also debuted a new “Intercom” feature that allows customers with multiple HomePods in different rooms to communicate throughout the house. Internal messages will also appear on connected iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches (although they will not immediately play out loud, as they do on the HomePod mini.)
The original HomePod cost $ 349 when first launched in 2018, making it much more expensive than any of Amazon’s Echo or Google Home speakers. This high price, combined with the limitations of the original only for Apple (which only worked with Apple Music, a problem that Apple now fixes with iOS 14 this fall), made it a difficult sale, especially compared to Google’s cheaper capable alternatives and Amazon.
And while Apple will eventually continue to reduce the price of the original HomePod (now it usually costs $ 199 on sale), it’s still expensive. The new HomePod mini should help change that by offering similar features to the original, but at a much nicer price.
This is also a big deal, because the HomePod is not just a smart speaker – it serves as a central hub for all HomeKit devices, allowing users to control things like their lights or doors when they are not at home, as well as activating automation features for Apple’s Apple Home app. The more affordable HomePod not only provides more ways for Apple to bring Siri and Apple Music into people’s homes, it helps expand Apple’s entire presence as part of setting up your smart home.
The HomePod mini will cost $ 99. Pre-orders start on November 6 and delivery on November 16.
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