When the Apple HomePod mini arrived, my sensible residence savvy associates weren’t precisely impressed. With function after function introduced, they mentioned “Alexa does that already,” “Google Assistant does that already,” nearly within the cadence of the “Simpsons did it,” line from South Park. Even Apple’s new Intercom bulletins capacity is in Alexa’s options: it is referred to as Drop In.
I wasn’t precisely impressed both, as I am not an enormous sensible residence fan: my Echo Clock with Dot is extra of a clock than a speaker. I not often suppose to ask it questions, I simply have not tailored my mind to that route. However as I watched the occasion, Apple discovered a technique to change my thoughts.
The $99 HomePod mini, in the event you did not hear already, is Apple’s follow-up to the in all probability unsuccessful HomePod — an enormous (great-sounding) speaker that prices a whopping $299. That value is so excessive in comparison with the market that Apple affords a month-to-month installment plan along with flatout buy.
Additionally, the HomePod depends on Siri, which has lengthy felt like an also-ran, in comparison with Alexa and Google Assistant. For instance, Siri nonetheless would not permit for a number of timers going concurrently, which nonetheless bugs many (myself included).
The place the HomePod mini is cooler than any Echo
The HomePod mini improves on the HomePod with one cool new function — which you’ll be able to’t discover in any Amazon or Google sensible speaker — referred to as Music Handoff.
Here is the way it works. With Music Handoff, you merely stroll as much as the HomePod mini whilst you’re listening to music or a podcast, and the HomePod mini senses your machine is close to, and allows you to merely switch the music in your cellphone to its speaker.
Apple has cracked this trick due to its U1 chip, which makes use of Extremely Wideband expertise to detect close by units.
Handoff seems like the best way we evolve previous Bluetooth
Handoff won’t sound large to some, however that is smarter than any related, Alexa-enabled microwave in the event you ask me. That is as a result of I’ve endlessly loathed Bluetooth expertise. The method of turning on, after which pairing, audio system, headphones and all kinds of different issues has all the time felt like there’s an excessive amount of friction taking place.
That does not imply I haven’t got Bluetooth units that I exploit. I’ve acquired the UE Megaboom 3 and even the stereo audio system for my report participant assist Bluetooth. Even when these functions try to minimize down on the steps to allow Bluetooth —the UE app permits you to activate the speaker in the event you’re inside vary — it nonetheless feels too fidgety.
The HomePod mini’s Music Handoff fixes all of that, and it seems like it should work like AirPods work. You simply go close to the speaker, and it will switch the sound over.
The one downside with HomePod mini music handoff
There’s only one catch. Not all apps seem to assist the HomePod mini, which implies you may solely be capable of ship sounds from some apps to the speaker.
Most folk will probably be aggravated by the shortage of Spotify assist, however at this level, I am not shocked. I am extra annoyed by the truth that whereas this function can even assist podcasts, solely Apple’s Podcast app seems to assist it. No love for Overcast, the perfect podcast app, bar none? I hope that is fastened finally.
If our HomePod mini assessment says its sound is pretty much as good as Apple says it’s, I would really purchase one. Heck, I may even see myself shopping for a pair, so I may additionally use them stereo audio system for my Apple TV, as I’ve but to spend money on a soundbar. The best soundbars on their very own have by no means actually peaked my curiosity, but when I can use the HomePod mini to chop down on time fiddling with Bluetooth settings — and get higher audio high quality for TV exhibits?
Congrats, Apple, you discovered a technique to promote sensible audio system to somebody who barely talks to Siri.