The smart speaker system around the $100 price point till now was pretty sparse. You had the Amazon Echo which Amazon has regularly updated and made it better at every step. You had the fairly disappointing Google Home for the longest time, till the Google Nest Audio arrived on the scene. And that was it. The Apple HomePod still cost Rs 19,900 and that’s a fair way away from the budget but under the Rs 10,000 price point. Enter the Apple HomePod Mini and you can see status quo will no longer remain in force. Apple has confirmed that the HomePod Mini will go on sale in India for Rs 9,900 and that means it’ll go into a battle with the upcoming and updated Amazon Echo smart speaker.
Apple says this has a full range dynamic driver and dual passive radiators as well as wave guidance to get powerful sound from a compact form factor. The acoustic waveguide is for the 360-degree sound that the larger HomePod also attempts to deliver and it sits at the bottom of the speaker. The Apple HomePod Mini also gets the computational audio for real-time tuning based on the speaker’s understanding of where it is placed and any changes in the layout around it, to alter the sound if need be.
The Apple HomePod Mini is powered by the Apple S5 chip and that enables the audio processing that is part of the computational audio. This means the Apple HomePod Mini will be able to adjust the sound as many as 180 times per second. Till now, the only Amazon Echo speaker that has locational awareness and smarts is the Echo Studio, which is priced around the larger Apple HomePod. The Apple HomePod Mini will also be able to work as part of a stereo setup and can intelligently also create a stereo pair if two of these speakers are placed in the same room. The integration for the Apple Siri intelligent assistant is as you’d expect.
Apple iPhone users will find particular relevance for the U1 ultra-wide band chip for simpler handoff and music flow from one to the other. This will be very convenient if you have multiple of the Apple HomePod Mini speakers at home, and you want to switch music as you walk from one room to another or play different music on different HomePod Mini speakers.
Till now, the HomePod smart speaker was limited to work with just Apple Music. That may have been a limitation for many, who may have had their music libraries painstakingly curated on other music streaming apps. That is set to change later this year, with support for Amazon Music, Pandora and more coming to the Apple HomePod Mini. One would assume that any and all services from the new additions that are available in India, would work with the HomePod Mini and indeed the HomePod in this part of the world.
You will be able to use Siri on the HomePod Mini to access apps in your iPhone, such as sending a message using iMessage. You will be able to call out to the HomePod Mini to check for weather and news updates, your tasks for the day, calendar and more. Privacy remains a focus too—your identifiers don’t carry any personalized info and the Apple HomePod Mini only listens for the Hey Siri keywords and doesn’t remain active unless it does. The Apple HomePod Mini will also enable full control for Homekit capable smart home devices as well and can also be used as an intercom for your home in case you have HomePod speakers in different rooms.