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Apple announces smaller and cheaper HomePod Mini smart speaker for US$99

By Kenny Yeo - on 14 Oct 2020, 11:31am

Apple announces smaller and cheaper HomePod Mini smart speaker for US$99

The new Apple HomePod Mini. (Image source: Apple)

By now, you would have probably read all the about the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini as well as the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Alongside, these four new phones, Apple also announced the HomePod Mini, a smaller and more affordable version of the HomePod that comes with interesting new features.

Like the first HomePod, the HomePod Mini has a curvaceous form factor that's covered by mesh fabric. It will come in two colours: space grey and white.

Inside, there's a single full-range dynamic driver that's paired with two passive radiators and an acoustic waveguide that helps guide sound outwards to deliver 360° audio.

Audio performance was an important consideration for Apple so the HomePod Mini also features an Apple S5 chip that is used to process and tune the sound in something Apple calls "computational audio". Apple says it measures sound from the speakers up to 180 times per sound and adjusts accordingly.

In essence, it's a combination of room correction and digital signal processing, so that the HomePod Mini will sound its best regardless of its location.

The internals of the HomePod Mini. (Image source: Apple)

The S5 also enables deep integration with other HomePod Mini speakers and Apple devices. For example, multiple HomePod Mini speakers can play music in sync to create a seamless listening experience and it will even pair will HomePod Mini speakers in the same room to create a stereo setup.

Obviously, the HomePod Mini will work with Apple Music, but Apple also said that there will be support for third-party music services including Pandora and Amazon, but not Spotify and Tidal.

One nifty new feature is called Intercom that will allow members in the home to use the HomePod Mini to send messages to other HomePod Minis in the house or to connected Apple devices.

For example, Apple showed off a demo where a father sends an Intercom message on his way back in his car via Apple CarPlay and then the message gets played back on all HomePod Mini speakers back home. The Intercom message also appears as a notification on the Apple Watch and gets played back on his children's connected AirPods.

The HomePod Mini will also work with HomeKit to act as a hub for all your compatible smart home accessories like lights, switches, security cameras, and more.

Apple also wants to reassure users that privacy and security were utmost considerations for the HomePod Mini. Nothing is recorded and gets sent unless the HomePod Mini hears the magic words, "Hey Siri." And requests are associated with a random identifier and not your Apple ID.

The HomePod Mini goes on sale in the US on 16 November 2020 and will be priced at US$99 (~S$134). This makes it significantly more affordable than the original HomePod which had a launch price of US$349.

No word yet on local availability and pricing but we will be sure to update this article if we know more.

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