Apple Releases Smaller, More Affordable HomePod

Posted on October 13, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Hardware with 12 Comments

Apple first announced the original HomePod back in 2017, and it finally went on sale in 2018. However, when the device first launched, the $349 price tag, combined with the lack of Spotify integration, led to Apple struggling to sell the device.

The company is finally making an affordable smart speaker — today, it’s introducing a new, smaller HomePod. The new HomePod Mini costs only $99, making it way more affordable than the original HomePod.

At the $99 price tag, you obviously won’t be getting the same audio quality as the original HomePod, which received raving reviews for its audio quality. But the new HomePod Mini features something called “Computational Audio” which will automatically adjust loudness, dynamic range, etc. intelligently. Apple is promising high-quality sound here.

The $99 HomePod could finally allow Apple to break into the smart speaker market, which has so far been dominated by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Sonos. Apple showcased support for Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and some other services — except Spotify. Yikes.

The new HomePod Mini features an S5 processor that we have also seen on the Apple Watch Series 5. The new HomePod is actually almost half the size of the original HomePod, making it really small. The design of the device has changed quite a lot, it looks like a bowl now, and has a nice little Siri light on top. The device features a nice fabric mesh exterior and is available in black and white.

Apple’s new $99 HomePod also features Apple’s ultra-wideband U1 chip which first debuted on the iPhone 11. The new chip will allow the HomePod Mini to track your location inside your house with other U1 devices, enabling cool new experiences. For example, you will be able to quickly handoff music playback from your iPhone by bringing it close to the HomePod Mini.

HomePod Mini works with HomeKit-enabled products, so you will be able to control all your smart home devices with Siri on the HomePod Mini. Apple is also introducing a new Intercom feature, which allows you to send audio messages throughout the home, as well as other Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Apple is putting a lot of emphasis on privacy and security — the company says your Siri requests won’t be associated with your Apple ID, and the company will only store your audio recordings only if you opt-in. The device will be available for order November 6 and start shipping on November 16.

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Comments (12)

12 responses to “Apple Releases Smaller, More Affordable HomePod”

  1. gregsedwards

    They're going to sell a bajillion of these things.

    Oh, and welcome back, Mehedi!

  2. remc86007

    It amazes me that people use these things (small, crappy smart speakers) for listening to music. I have a friend who uses the cheap echo speakers to listen to music and I have to ask him to turn it off when I'm at his house, the sound quality is so poor it is grating to listen to.

    • waethorn

      In reply to remc86007:

      I can't speak for these, but I can tell you that even though Chromebooks often have far better speakers to related-cost Windows laptops, the speakers in the cheapest current MacBook Air are night and day difference to the best Chromebook speakers and even "high-end" speakers in a media or gaming Windows laptop costing far more.

    • sammyg

      In reply to remc86007:

      Have you listed to a Home Pod mini? I am not saying it is good at all but I would at least read a review or two.

      We have the larger original model and I think it sounds fantastic.

    • Saarek

      In reply to remc86007:

      Listening to music on an Echo Dot is like listening to music on cheap £2.99 headphones, terrible! But it's amazing how many people don't seem to mind it one bit.

      The original HomePod though, now that offers excellent audio for the price point.

      Let's see what these sound like, obviously they won't be B&W Nautilus territory, but Apple doesn't tend to release rubbish.

  3. lezmaka

    Mehedi's back!

  4. waethorn

    "the company will only store your audio recordings only if you opt-in"

    Does that include sending them off as audio clippets to some desk jockey at a review company to analyze your, erm, various auditory emissions?

  5. shawnthebeachy

    "For example, you will be able to quickly handoff music playback from your iPhone by bringing it close to the HomePod Mini."

    FWIW, this already works on the existing HomePod.

  6. winner

    "Here's a small speaker at the price of our competitors' larger speakers!"

  7. SvenJ

    Should be noted that the full sized HomePods are pretty regularly available for $200 these days. At that price, they are wonderful, assuming a little, you are in Apple's ecosystem.

  8. ebraiter

    Some reviews said to ignore this and wait for a second generation.