We’re big fans of Apple Homepod. It sounds great, it looks great, and Siri is decent enough to serve as a viable alternative to Alexa and Google Assistant. Problem is, it’s kind of expensive – a tough proposition when Amazon basically filled the market with decent quality Echo speakers at every price point. The Apple HomePod Mini feels like the outfit’s response to that.
A smaller and more affordable smart speaker, it gives Apple a model that can compete with the lower-priced end of the category, making it a whole lot easier for many users to bring a Siri-powered speaker into their home. And yes, the outfit’s design language shines through on the darn thing, so it looks a whole lot more attractive compared to many similarly-priced products out there today.
The Apple HomePod Mini is equipped with a full-range driver and dual passive radiators, along with a custom acoustic waveguide that, the outfit claims, allows it to produce a 360-degree sound field with crisp highs and deep bass. Powered by an Apple S5 chip, it uses computational audio to alter sound signals on the fly, too, which supposedly enables it to optimize loudness and adjust the dynamic range, creating those full and detailed tones you will normally hear only on much larger speakers. While we, of course, have no idea how this actually sounds, if it’s anywhere near as good as the original HomePod, then we definitely have high hopes for it as far as audio quality is concerned.
It pairs that audio playback with a three-mic array that constantly listens for “Hey Siri,” which is how you bring up Apple’s intelligent assistant. Like to play your music really loud? Not a problem, as it uses a fourth inward-facing mic to isolate whatever sound is coming from the speaker, ensuring it can eliminate even the loudest sound signals, so it will hear you call out for Siri each time out.
The Apple HomePod Mini allows you to use voice commands to get Siri to do, pretty much, all the usual intelligent assistant stuff, from answering queries and reading out your calendar to getting news headlines and controlling music playback. It has, of course, tight integration with other Apple devices, making it easy to pick up a call from your iPhone, playing sound from the Apple TV, or playing stored music on your iMac. The speaker can also recognize different users, so it knows exactly what kind of playlists you enjoy listening to (and which ones your wife likes), all while offering tailored daily briefings.
There’s a new Ultra-Wideband chip that allows it to better communicate with smart home devices, so you can control the lights, adjust the thermostat, and lock the doors all using voice commands. It also offers an Intercom feature that lets you use not just multiple HomePods in your home as communication devices, but also authorized iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, AirPods, and even CarPlay devices.
The Apple HomePod Mini will come in either white or space gray, priced at $99. It hits stores November 16th.