The incredibly affordable HomePod mini is official with nifty new features

The incredibly affordable HomePod mini is official with nifty new features
Apple today announced the HomePod mini, a compact version of the original HomePod that was announced back in 2017.

Standing 3.3 inches tall, the spherical speaker is roughly half the size of the original device, but it features the same mesh design and a small display at the top for controlling volume and talking to Siri. Color choices include white and space gray, as expected.


HomePod mini features a year old chip, but it is heavy on computational skills

The HomePod mini has last year's S5 chip as its brain, which might sound familiar because it also powers the Apple Watch SE and Watch Series 5.

The speaker features a neodymium magnet-powered full-range driver and a pair of force-canceling passive radiators to enable high frequencies and deep bass. The hardware is unsurprisingly aided by computational audio to help the compact device deliver a rich acoustic experience. 

Apple says the S5 chip works in conjunction with advanced software to analyze audio and tweak loudness and dynamic range, and control the movement of passive radiators and the driver in real-time. If you are looking for the specifics, the speaker can adjust audio 180 times per second. 

For a 360-degree audio experience, the HomePod mini takes inspiration from the OG HomePod to dictate the flow of sound. A three-microphone setup listens to  “Hey Siri” commands and another one isolates the audio coming from the speaker to improve voice detection.

The speaker will also support third-party streaming services such as Pandora and Amazon Music, which is a welcome change.

Multiple HomePod minis can be placed together to stream audio to various rooms in perfect sync. And to get the party going, you can two place two of Apple's new speakers in the same room to create a stereo pair for a wide soundstage.

That's not to say Apple is expecting you to buy a bunch of its new HomePods and it very well understands that the same speaker will probably be used by all the people in a house. Thanks to Siri, it is well equipped to identify who is speaking and tailor its suggestions accordingly.

The speaker can also act as an Ultra-Wideband station

You can also quickly handoff anything you are listening to on your iPhone and the experience will be elevated later this year with audible, visual, and haptic effects when an audio transfer takes place. 

When an iPhone is next to a HomePod mini, it will get personalized listening suggestions, provided it's one of the newer models with the U1 chip. The speaker will also double up as an Ultra-Wideband base station for locating devices equipped with the aforementioned chip. 

The speaker can also be used for controlling smart home accessories whether you are home or not.

The latest HomePod also gets a new Intercom feature that allows family members to interact with each other at home. Simply put, if you need to communicate a message to someone, just speak it into the device, and it will play at the other end. The feature also works with iPhone, iPad, AirPods, Apple Watch, and CarPlay.

Apple also assures us that security and privacy are at the forefront of the device. Requests will not be tied with your Apple ID and your personal information will never be sold to advertisers.

The HomePod mini will set you back $99, and it goes without saying that it is much more affordable than the OG HomePod that had an introductory price of 349. Preorders open on November 6 and the speaker will go on sale on November 16.

Check out the HomePod mini in all its glory below:

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