Homepod Mini

Apple’s new HomePod Mini


Apple

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple unveiled a brand HomePod Mini smart speaker today, giving it a brand new piece of hardware to pit against Amazon, Google, and others in the race to bring voice control into our homes. Powered by Apple’s Siri voice assistant, the HomePod Mini is smaller than the original 2018 model.

With Google also expected to launch a new smart speaker this holiday season, Apple’s new speaker aims to convince consumers to consider an alternative to the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-based alternatives that currently dominate the segment. The sphere-like device features a familiar mesh covering, along with a touch surface with controls on its flat top for volume, play and pause.

The device is priced at $99 and can be ordered on November 6. It will start shipping the week of November 16. The lower price sets it apart from the original HomePod, which is priced $299 (though it can often be found discounted to $199). Amazon and Google have smart speakers in that lofty price range as well, but most of their market share comes from speakers in the $50 price range. That high price is one of the factors that has limited sales for HomePod, making it harder for Apple to gain a foothold for Siri as a household voice assistant.

To justify the higher price of the original HomePod, Apple pitched it as a high-end shelf speaker. The first HomePod largely delivered on that promise, but that positioning also helped shield Siri from too much scrutiny as a conversational voice assistant next to the superior Alexa and Google Assistant.

For HomePod Mini, Apple says it has combined a powerful voice assistant with the same excellent sound quality in the original HomePod. Additionally, device’s privacy features will mirror the way Apple configures the original HomePod. The device won’t tie your requests and conversations with Siri to your Apple ID, providing a form of anonymization, and the data will be encrypted.


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The device will also work with outside music streaming services including Pandora and Amazon in the coming months. This integration sets HomePod Mini apart from the original HomePod, which was limited to Apple Music for voice control streaming. Still, the HomePod Mini clearly aims to work with Apple products and services, and connects the speaker to the apps running on iPhones. The goal is to let users ask Siri simple questions on the speaker that pull answers from iPhone apps, said Yael Garten, Apple’s director of science and engineering for Siri.

“What really sets HomePod Mini apart is its deep integration with iPhone,” Garten said.

The device also aims to let users control the smart home with their voices. This builds off the Apple HomeKit, a hub for smart home devices that can now connect with HomePod Mini.

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