In 2018, Apple finally entered the smart speaker world with the release of the original HomePod. Three years later (aeons in the tech world), they decided to go small ball, offering the more affordable HomePod Mini. Taking up less shelf space, the Mini still packs a punch, focusing on sound quality and innovative features designed to integrate with the everyday lives of Apple customers.
The HomePod Mini presents itself as a small spherical pot plant designed to complement the interior of the house. Coming in white or black finishes, the Mini is wrapped in a mesh fabric and has the elegant aesthetic you’d expect from an Apple product. Only 8.4cm tall and 9.8cm wide, it’s approximately half the size of the similarly priced and similarly shaped Amazon Echo.
The Mini is primarily designed for voice-controlled. However, it does have a top panel touchscreen to manually change volume, skip tracks and pause/play your music. The glass panel on top is opaque when idle, but a surge of coloured light appears when Siri listens to commands. Furthermore, a gentle white orb oscillates when playing music or a podcast.
The power cable comes installed, with no physical audio connections required. The USB-C plug slips into the same 20W wall charger used with Apple’s higher-end iPads. Unfortunately, the HomePod mini does not plug in to the USB-C socket of a Mac computer or laptop.
Designed for “Hey Siri” commands, the HomePod Mini has four microphones built into the chassis. One of the microphones uses echo location, which allows a person’s voice to be heard over loud music and background noise. In addition, Siri can identify up to six different family members, creating a personalised experience for each person.
As you’d expect, the HomePod Mini is packed with Siri-powered smart functions, which includes setting timers and alarms, creating reminders and shopping lists, controlling HomeKit-compatible devices, and sending messages and phone calls. Working effortlessly with other Apple devices, the HomePod Mini can connect to both your Mac and Apple TV, upgrading your sound quality.
With its new Intercom feature, you can now send announcements from one HomePod to another, making it easy to communicate between different rooms in the house. Intercom also works with your other Apple devices, so you can send and receive messages with CarPlay while you’re driving, with your AirPods during a workout or with your Apple Watch when you’re running errands.
For Apple Music customer’s, what sets the HomePod Mini apart from other smart speakers is its music curation ability. In time, it will learn your preferences and help find new tracks. Tell Siri, “play something I’ll like”, and the device won’t simply play your most streamed, but will choose something fresh that suits your taste. It’s a magnificent way to discover new music and the HomePod Mini is second to none in this aspect.
Inside the HomePod Mini is the Apple-designed full-range driver, which fires 360-degree sound, filling the room effectively for its size. The driver is supported by a suspension system to reduce distortion, and is bordered by two passive radiators formulated to create a beefier sound. If you’re looking to raise the roof, users can combine two HomePod Minis in a stereo pair. This creates even more bass weight and further improves the tone of your favourite tune.
The HomePod Mini is now available on the Apple website for AUD$149.