Spending time with HomePod mini and why we're already hooked

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple's HomePod mini started to arrive at customers' doorsteps a couple days ago and we've been jamming with it ever since. Even in our limited time with the new diminutive speaker, we're already hooked.

HomePod mini
HomePod mini

Mini in size, not sound

Once we got our HomePod minis, we instantly noted its size. We had perused Apple's tech specs that spells out its footprint and tried Apple's AR feature to see the HomePod mini in our own home, yet we were still surprised at how small the device was. We expected it to be roughly the size of a softball, yet in real life it's just a hair larger than a baseball.

Thanks to its new smaller size it fits in far more places than the original HomePod. It fits so much better on our crowded desk, on a nightstand, on a shelf full of decor, and many places that our full-size HomePod just never could. Some rooms might need a lot of sound, but in our home, the mini works perfectly in bedrooms, the office, or our kitchen, where it fills rooms with sound.






HomePod mini certainly lacks in volume and bass compared to HomePod, but for its size the sound is very pleasing. We'd gladly listen to it over an Echo Dot.

If you do need more sound, two HomePod minis can be set up in a stereo pair for additional volume.

Apple's U1 chip

One of the as-of-yet underutilized features of HomePod mini is the U1 chip, Apple's own ultra-wideband silicon. The possibilities for this chip are vast, such as tracking users throughout the home to trigger HomeKit automation, but right now it is primarily used for HandOff.

Using Handoff with HomePod mini
Using Handoff with HomePod mini


HomePod has long supported HandOff, but it is a much better experience with HomePod mini. The transfer is near-instantaneous as you bring your phone near the speaker. We just point it at the device and the U1 chip is able to track the phone, recognize its intent, and pass off any audio you're listening to. We just sat there and played catch with our HomePod mini, sending phone calls, Apple Music, podcasts, and more to our back and forth between the speaker and our iPhone.

That U1 chip is already quite helpful in this one small task and we are excited by what Apple has in store.

Thread

Another emerging technology in the HomePod mini is support for Thread. This is a new smart home connectivity standard that has many benefits over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Z-Wave. HomePod mini is Apple's first device to include support for Thread and so far we've had one HomeKit line launch with support for the technology.

Nanoleaf's new Essentials line includes Thread support and Eve has promised to bring Thread to its product line as well.

Using Thread to control Nanoleaf Essentials bulb
Using Thread to control Nanoleaf Essentials bulb


To test, we tried turning our light on and off a few times before setting up HomePod mini. Without Thread, it connects over Bluetooth. Our Nanoleaf Essentials Bulb was fast, but not instantaneous. Once we set up our HomePod mini -- and updated to the 14.2 firmware -- we noticed that the Thread-enabled device was the most responsive we've seen. As soon as we tapped the light in the Home app, the bulb responded. It was as if it was connected by a wire. Absolutely faster than Bluetooth or our Hue bulbs which rely on ZigBee.

There is a reason we are so excited about the future of the smart home as more and more devices roll out support for Thread.

USB-C support

The new HomePod mini is powered up by USB-C. Apple includes a 20W USB-C power brick in the box though you can use any USB-C charger that provides adequate power. Apple still considers the HomePod mini a "premium" product and helps deliver on that classification by integrating a nylon-braided cable.

Jamming on HomePod mini
Jamming on HomePod mini


One benefit of the USB-C cable is that it can be connected to your Mac and restored through Finder if need be.

The biggest benefit, though, is that the USB-C cable can connect to any large USB-C PD battery pack. We used our Zendure SuperTank Pro which has four USB-C ports and a massive capacity. Two of the four USB-C ports can output up to 100W of power and the other two still manage enough for the HomePod mini.




We connected our HomePod mini to our Zendure SuperTank Pro and were able to play music for hours with the battery hardly taking a hit. If you have something like the Aukey PowerStudio, you can get even longer battery life. HomePod mini doesn't support Bluetooth audio so you can't take it on the road but it will certainly travel throughout your home, on the porch, backyard, and other places that still have a Wi-Fi connection.

Where to buy Apple's HomePod mini

Apple's HomePod mini is available to purchase from Apple resellers, with the latest deals and up-to-date pricing at your fingertips in the AppleInsider HomePod Price Guide.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod or HomePod mini. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider Daily," and you'll get a fast update direct from the AppleInsider team.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    Any word on the original HomePods and receiving an update to enable Thread?
    williamlondoncornchipdbvapormbenz1962
  • Reply 2 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,628member
    Re: "We'd gladly listen to it over an Echo Dot."

    How does it compare to the same-priced 4th Gen Echo (full sized)? 
    mbenz1962
  • Reply 3 of 25
    Got mine set up. This thing is small, with great sound for the size. Full sound, which includes some bass, even if it doesn't have room-thumping bass. Which is perfect for bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, etc. It sounds better than my older, larger, dedicated AirPlay iHome speaker. Multi-room via AirPlay 2 is fantastic (even if operating multiroom is more complicated than I’d like). 




    equality72521cornchiprandominternetpersonpscooter63firelockwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 25
    My wish is that the USB-C power cable could be swapped for one that fits the length you need. My kitchen island has an outlet just 6" from where I would place this and having 6' of coiled up cable would be unsightly. I cancelled my order one I found out this cable was fixed to the Home Pod.
    razorpit
  • Reply 5 of 25
    Still can’t purchase HomePod or HomePod Mini in the Netherlands. Why??
  • Reply 6 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,628member
    My wish is that the USB-C power cable could be swapped for one that fits the length you need. My kitchen island has an outlet just 6" from where I would place this and having 6' of coiled up cable would be unsightly. I cancelled my order one I found out this cable was fixed to the Home Pod.
    I'd bet that in a few weeks or months some 3rd party will come up with a mounting kit to hide the excess cord. All of my Echo Dots (2 gen and 3 gen) are wall mounted using third party mounting kits that hide the power supply and cord. They consume one power socket in a duplex receptacle without blocking the second socket. Very handy, especially in utility rooms and garage with no available shelf space, as long as you don't mind the big lollipop aesthetic. There are currently mounting kits for HomePod Maxi, but the Mini is too new to expect anything quite yet.

    The design and size of the HP mini makes it look like a votive candle holder. The glow on top only reinforces this interpretation.
    edited November 2020 cornchippscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    Great to see people got theirs. What about those of us who ordered on the 6th through Apple Insider because of the $10 discount you advertised through Adorama? They emailed on 8th saying they were backordered, and a subsequent email reply sent by myself yesterday was answered essentially with a “we don’t know when we’re going to be able to get the item”. Just wondering if anyone at AI has any answers or if anyone who ordered through AI is having same issue? 
    cornchipjagbatthwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 25
    I ordered 2 as replacements for my Echo Dots. So glad to finally be rid of Alexa & go 100% Siri/HomeKit. For me, music was an afterthought. 
    edited November 2020 cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,921member
    mobird said:
    Any word on the original HomePods and receiving an update to enable Thread?
    Good question.

    so I’m assuming that these could be set up in unison with a full-size HomePod?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 25
    I really like mine. I got the white version. I used it to replace the HomePod in the bedroom and that one went out to the living to be paired up with another HomePod. OMG, the sound!

    Anyway, about the Mini. Nice little powerhouse of sound with the functionality of the HomeKit and Siri. Will work perfect with the TV in the room and for checking weather, listening to news, morning music alarm, etc.

    I too was surprised at how "mini" it actually was. At first I thought, "Oh, they can't be serious!". But after setting up with Apple Music and listening to some choice tunes, I was very satisfied. Probably will be the only Apple product I buy this cycle, and it was a good one!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 25
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,605member
    Still can’t purchase HomePod or HomePod Mini in the Netherlands. Why??
    Same answer as with most new products: Apple apparently has only a limited (large, but limited) number available at the moment and has opted to address its biggest markets first. Hopefully you in the Netherlands and other great countries will get some before Christmas, but yeah as I'm in Canada I've gotten used to occasionally not being in the first clutch of countries to get the latest hotness.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 25
    chasm said:
    Still can’t purchase HomePod or HomePod Mini in the Netherlands. Why??
    Same answer as with most new products: Apple apparently has only a limited (large, but limited) number available at the moment and has opted to address its biggest markets first. Hopefully you in the Netherlands and other great countries will get some before Christmas, but yeah as I'm in Canada I've gotten used to occasionally not being in the first clutch of countries to get the latest hotness.
    The actual reason is that the HomePod (Regular and Mini) don’t support Dutch as Siri language  Apple therefore does not sell both in the Netherlands and Belgium. You can buy them over the border in Germany or France. Guess you would also be able to have them shipped to the Netherlands via a German reseller  
    mbenz1962dewmeStrangeDaysrazorpit
  • Reply 13 of 25
    i got myself a home pod mini and yeah i think its alright

    HomeKit needs to be more inter-operable however for it to really shine more
  • Reply 14 of 25
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,259member
    jagbatth said:
    Contacted Adorama and they said they have no clue when they will ship out the orders or if ever!? Why would AI support such thiefs?
    Grow the fuck up. Nobody stole anything from you. You ordered outside  the Apple garden for a little discount, and now you have to wait until Adorama gets their supply from Apple, whenever Apple feels they're caught up enough to provide to resellers. Your not happy? Cancel and get thee to an Apple store or use their app.

    Most if not all authorized resellers don't get new Apple product anywhere near the time customers get them from Apple. That's just the way it is. Maybe you'll think about that next time you want to save a little money.

    In other news, can you bleeding edgers who've already set up their HPms comment on any lag of audio when watching video? Or are they used for audio only.

    Given how small they really are, a set flanking an iMac or display seem like an ideal application for me.  

    Over a dozen BT speakers I've tried generally lag on the audio, and that makes watching video a definite problem. I'd like to think it doesn't take much WiFi to make the HPms happy and that lag is nonexistent. Does anybody have any experience using these with video material? 


    StrangeDayspscooter63GeorgeBMacrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 25
    I could imagine using HomePod as my center speaker + subwoofer, two HomePod minis as my surround speakers... Little DolbyAtmos Home Cinema to my Apple TV :) Maybe Apple will come up with something like that later :)
    jahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 25
    I wonder when Apple will consider the iPhone a "premium" product and include a braided cable with it, considering it can cost as much as 14x what the Home Pod mini does. (By the way, my two Home Pod minis came in yesterday and are set up. Surprising sound coming from something so small...)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    macgui said:
    jagbatth said:
    Contacted Adorama and they said they have no clue when they will ship out the orders or if ever!? Why would AI support such thiefs?
    Grow the fuck up. Nobody stole anything from you. You ordered outside  the Apple garden for a little discount, and now you have to wait until Adorama gets their supply from Apple, whenever Apple feels they're caught up enough to provide to resellers. Your not happy? Cancel and get thee to an Apple store or use their app.

    Most if not all authorized resellers don't get new Apple product anywhere near the time customers get them from Apple. That's just the way it is. Maybe you'll think about that next time you want to save a little money.

    In other news, can you bleeding edgers who've already set up their HPms comment on any lag of audio when watching video? Or are they used for audio only.

    Given how small they really are, a set flanking an iMac or display seem like an ideal application for me.  

    Over a dozen BT speakers I've tried generally lag on the audio, and that makes watching video a definite problem. I'd like to think it doesn't take much WiFi to make the HPms happy and that lag is nonexistent. Does anybody have any experience using these with video material? 


    I have the full-size HomePod in our living room, there is no lag when watching. Since the mini uses the same tech as the normal one, I would imagine there would be no lag with the mini as well. I'll test it when I get home on my mini.
    watto_cobramacgui
  • Reply 18 of 25
    macgui said:
    jagbatth said:
    Contacted Adorama and they said they have no clue when they will ship out the orders or if ever!? Why would AI support such thiefs?
    In other news, can you bleeding edgers who've already set up their HPms comment on any lag of audio when watching video? Or are they used for audio only.

    Given how small they really are, a set flanking an iMac or display seem like an ideal application for me.  

    Over a dozen BT speakers I've tried generally lag on the audio, and that makes watching video a definite problem. I'd like to think it doesn't take much WiFi to make the HPms happy and that lag is nonexistent. Does anybody have any experience using these with video material? 
    Haven't tried the minis with video, but my primary HPs don't have a problem, I use them for video on my ATV every day.
    watto_cobramacgui
  • Reply 19 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,628member
    macgui said:
    jagbatth said:
    Contacted Adorama and they said they have no clue when they will ship out the orders or if ever!? Why would AI support such thiefs?
    In other news, can you bleeding edgers who've already set up their HPms comment on any lag of audio when watching video? Or are they used for audio only.

    Given how small they really are, a set flanking an iMac or display seem like an ideal application for me.  

    Over a dozen BT speakers I've tried generally lag on the audio, and that makes watching video a definite problem. I'd like to think it doesn't take much WiFi to make the HPms happy and that lag is nonexistent. Does anybody have any experience using these with video material? 
    Haven't tried the minis with video, but my primary HPs don't have a problem, I use them for video on my ATV every day.
    The biggy sized HomePod is an excellent little "soundbar" alternative. I haven't noticed any sync issues but Apple has a process to fine tune it if you have issues. Hopefully the minis will provide the same same capability.

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210526

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 25
    So, what is this "Thread"?
    What does it do that WiFi can't?
    Is it hardware based -- meaning that our "old" Homekit stuff is now obsolete?
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