There have been rumors that Apple will release a half size of HomePod for a long time, but I have never had any interest in them. I bought the original HomePod to use as a speaker, so I was not seriously disappointed by the shortcomings as an intelligent assistant. I was critical of Apple not using the device as a motivation to dig into the issues and make using Siri a better experience, but that did not really ruin the use of the device.
I still do not regret buying a HomePod because I do not have a stereo in my house and did not have any other good room sound. Everything I had before it was aimed at portability or personal listening. While $ 349 (HomePod now sells for $ 299 and is often available as low as $ 1
My problem with previous rumors about a HomePod Mini was based on the original price of the original HomePod and its struggles as an intelligent assistant and home automation hub. Based on that, a smaller version did not seem like a good idea or a big seller. Assuming a price of around $ 200, what’s the point? It is MUCH more expensive than better intelligent assistant hardware from Google and Amazon, and would not have the same sound quality as the original HomePod.
However, recent rumors that the upcoming HomePod Mini may be priced at $ 99 turn that script around for me. First, I just did not expect Apple to go so low for a high quality speaker. If the Mini maintains solid sound quality, $ 99 seems to me a very competitive price.
The other reason I see the rumored Mini differently today is home automation. Admittedly, Apple is far behind Amazon and Google in this market. However, they have become more aggressive in lowering the entry barrier for accessory manufacturers. They have removed the requirement for an authentication and security chip and opened some of their HomeKit platforms in the last couple of years to help spur adoption. Apple makes it much easier for manufacturers to create their new hardware that is already compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home, also working with HomeKit.
Wider availability of HomeKit equipment will give Apple users focused on privacy a reason to give the home automation platform a shot. A cheaper HomePod Mini that Apple users can afford to buy more of to put around their homes should also help the company boost interest in HomeKit. This has been lacking from Apple’s hardware range, and it may play an interesting role in their home automation plans going forward.
The HomePod Mini will also include Apple’s new U1 Ultra Wide Band chip. According to Jon Prosser, this new HomePod Mini will be the first of Apple’s hubs to use this technology in the home.
As I mentioned earlier, the UWB (integrated with the U1 chip) is the next big standard for Apple. It is just as important as wifi and bluetooth.
Not only is it incredibly accurate for position tracking, but it is also super fast for data transfer.
Below is my tweet from last month 👇 https://t.co/ldoTWeRrfS
– Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 9, 2020
What will Apple do with UWB beyond ultra-accurate home location tracking? I’m not quite sure, to be honest. What I do know is that the HomePod Mini is priced to move faster and bring this new technology into the homes of more Apple users.
The main thread that goes through all my thoughts on the HomePod Mini is still the price. If the expected $ 99 code turns out to be true, and I think it’s based on the number of times it’s repeated, it’s a smart move for Apple. It’s late, but I’m not sure Apple could have reached that price two years ago when they needed it, and the device would not be as compelling as it looks today.
All I know is that I now have another Apple device to keep an eye on and try after the release. A month ago I ignored the rumors that this or a HomePod 2 came this year. The right combination of price and features has a way of changing things.