Apple HomePod Mini goes live: Smaller, rounder and cheaper

Apple takes the covers off of its latest smart speaker

Apple HomePod Mini goes live
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Apple has officially launched the HomePod Mini: a smaller, rounder and - crucially - more affordable follow up to the original HomePod that went live way back at the beginning of 2018.

Apple's latest smart speaker, with a £99 price-tag, goes head-to-head with the likes of the 4th-gen Amazon Echo and the new Nest Audio.

Let's be honest, the spherical design is going to draw huge comparisons with Amazon's newest Echo.

The price suggests that it's not a super high-end audio device that has desires on taking over your living room; instead it's a more affordable entry to the Siri music party and is a smart speaker that will complement, rather than replace, the existing HomePod.

The HomePod Mini is 3.3-inches tall (the original HomePod is 6.8-inches in height) and is powered by Apple's S5 chip. Apple states that the extra processing power means 'computational audio'.

Like the original HomePod, the new Mini is a 360 degree speaker - meaning it should sound good wherever you place it in the room. It is also capable of multi-room audio with other HomePods (and AirPlay speakers) and you can pair up a duo of Minis for stereo HomePod action.

Apple has revealed that more streaming services will soon become part of the HomePod ecosystem.

"HomePod Mini is designed to work with Apple Music, podcasts, radio stations from iHeartRadio, radio.com, and TuneIn, and in the coming months, popular music services including Pandora and Amazon Music."

However, while Spotify wasn't listed as one of the music streaming partners in the presentation, it was confirmed in a briefing with The Ambient that Apple "would love to work with Spotify."

siri on homepod mini

On the top, that backlit touch button which represents Siri in visual form now takes up the whole surface.

A bit like Announcements on Alexa and Broadcast on Google Home speakers, you can now use Siri to broadcast Intercom messages throughout your house, on HomePods, iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, CarPlay and Apple's headphones.

iPhone hand-off features have also been enhanced with the new HomePod; just bring an iPhone close to one and you'll get visual features direct on your handset.

As well as being a music-focused smart speaker, the HomePod Mini also has smart home features. It can operate as a HomeKit Hub and also packs in a Thread Radio.

Apple joined The Thread Group, a group of companies that support a mesh network standard called Thread, back in 2018. The goal of the Thread standard is to make it easier for all sorts of devices - from lighting to thermostats - to more easily work together.

Thread is still in its infancy though and Apple has stated that all smart home devices will still need to be HomeKit compatible to work with the new Mini.

The new Apple HomePod Mini comes in white and space gray and you can pre-order on Apple.com from 6 November - shipping will be later that month. As mentioned, it costs £99.

TAGGED    apple home    smart speakers

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