Nestled amongst the announcements at WWDC21 this week, Apple has quietly dropped the news that the Apple HomePod mini is finally coming to New Zealand.
The HomePod mini is a circular smart speaker that stands just 8.5cm tall and works with Apple devices such as the iPhone, Mac, or Apple TV. It's designed to fit pretty much anywhere in the home.
The circular design allows for 360-degree audio, meaning sound travels in every direction. It can play music from services such as Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, as well as podcasts and radio stations on iHeartRadio, radio.com, and TuneIn.
The HomePod mini can also be paired with other HomePod mini speakers for an entirely connected sound system across different spots in the home. Users can bring their device close to a speaker to transfer the music broadcast (e.g. music playing on an iPhone can be transferred to the HomePod mini).
In the future, personalised listening suggestions will also automatically appear on U1-equipped iPhones when they are next to HomePod mini, and instant controls are available without having to unlock the iPhone.
There's also the option to create a sound stage. When the HomePod mini is paired with one other speaker, users can also set up a stereo pair (left and right channels).
The speaker features a three-microphone array and a fourth inward-facing microphone to capture ‘Hey Siri' commands and improve voice detection when music is playing.
Finally, the HomePod mini also features an Intercom service that enables people to talk to each other from different rooms in the home. This service works with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and CarPlay.
“[The Homepod mini delivers] amazing sound for listening to music, a world-class intelligent assistant that delivers a personal experience to each member of the household, and like every Apple product, it's designed with privacy and security in mind,” says Apple VP of worldwide product marketing, Bob Borchers.
The speaker was built with 99% recycled rare earth elements, while the mesh fabric casing comprises 90% recycled plastic.
Other features include:
- Siri Shortcuts created on iPhone and iPad are accessible on HomePod mini, so users can ask Siri on HomePod mini to start a pot of coffee, control a robot vacuum, add milk to the grocery list, and more.
- Ambient sounds, including rain, a fireplace, a stream, and more, offer the perfect background noise to focus, relax, or fall asleep. Siri can set a sleep timer so the sounds automatically stop playing.
- 'Find My' helps locate a misplaced iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple Watch by playing a sound to pinpoint its location.
- Web search results from HomePod mini can be sent directly to the user's iPhone for easy viewing.
- Music alarms let users wake up to a favourite song, playlist, or radio station from Apple Music.
The Apple HomePod mini retails for NZ$159 and will be available this month. But if you're after a larger, more powerful Apple speaker system you're out of luck - the HomePod mini's larger sibling, the HomePod, is still not available in New Zealand.