This might just be the most exciting product from Apple in a very long time. It’s rare they launch anything that is truly affordable but at £99, the new HomePod Mini is quite something.
For the uninitiated, Apple’s HomePod is an expensive but very capable smart speaker. Designed to work within the Apple ecosystem, the HomePod has a large yet limited audience. Partly because you need an Apple device to use it but also because it is quite expensive in the arena of smart speakers – it costs £279. As an owner of one, I can say it is worth the money but I can understand that in a world where buyers often go for sub-£50 options, the HomePod is a bit too rich for most.
That is where the HomePod Mini comes in. At £99, it’s less than half the cost of its bigger brother but doesn’t offer half the experience. It is quite easily the best speaker of its size that I have ever heard. It rivals bigger units for both volume and quality whilst featuring a raft of handy features.
At it’s core, it is a smart speaker. Therefore you can simple say ‘Hey Siri’ and ask it a range of different questions and get it to control a variety of smart gadgets in your home (providing they work with Apple’s HomeKit). It’ll answer most of the questions you might need in a hurry such as weather, basic maths, music requests and so on. You can even give it some lyrics and it’ll often find the song you’re after even if you don’t know the name of it.
Using the latest iOS software, you can now use multiple HomePods like intercoms in your house. You can summon the kids to dinner without having to raise your voice. It will even send that same message to all other Apple devices in your home.
Music is where the HomePod Mini really excels. It is loud but never distorts. It’ll fill even a moderately large room with a surprisingly good sound for its size. You can even pair it with another HomePod Mini to make a stereo pair for even greater sound and volume. That stereo pair can also be connected to an Apple TV to give you a compact home theatre setup.
One of the HomePod Mini’s hidden stand out features is Thread support. Thread is a wireless standard for smart devices that ensures faster response and better reliability. Apple is the first to introduce Thread in a smart speaker. We tested it with one of the few Thread enabled devices and the difference was night and day. The response was almost instant.
If you have Apple devices then adding one of these to your home is almost a no brainer! If you use HomeKit and have a suite of smart devices then you almost have to get one. If you use Android, then don’t get one. It really is that simple. If you can find one as they seem to be sold out until after Christmas.