The Apple HomePod 2 has now landed for anyone who needs a powerful, iPhone-friendly smart speaker. But Apple’s new wireless wonder has also helped deliver some treats for its smaller sibling; the HomePod mini.
Thanks to a software update that’s coming soon, the HomePod mini (opens in new tab) will see some hitherto untapped smart home talents unlocked. One of the Apple HomePod 2’s biggest new features is some built-in temperature and humidity sensors, which the company says can prompt the speaker to automatically close blinds or turn on smart fans.
But in Apple’s official HomePod comparison page (opens in new tab), the HomePod mini is also listed as having those exact same sensors, despite the fact that they’ve never been officially promoted as a feature. That’s about to change thanks to Apple’s upcoming software update.
An iFixit teardown (opens in new tab) of the Homepod mini revealed that the speaker does indeed have the Texas Instruments-made sensors for measuring humidity and temperature. As Bloomberg reported (opens in new tab) in 2021, the speaker’s smart home potential has just never been exploited – until now.
With the HomePod 2 delivering the exact same functions as the ones that Apple discussed internally around the launch of its little brother, Apple will now update the Homepod mini to work in line with its new wireless speaker.
While the HomePod 2 still has some of the same musical inflexibilities as its predecessor, including a lack of audio streaming options for Android phones, Apple has crowed about its smart home potential. Those new sensors will let you check the temperature and humidity in a room, but the more compelling potential is using them to automate aspects of your smart home.
It isn’t yet clear if the software update will come as part of the iOS 16.3 release that’s rumored to be coming next week (opens in new tab), but Homepod mini owners won’t have to wait long to try out the new features.
Analysis: Rebuilding the smart home
Apple’s support for the new Matter standard shows it’s making another push for a genuinely compelling, rather than frustratingly fragmented, smart home experience. And its two smart speakers, the HomePod 2 and HomePod mini, are a key part of that plan.
The good news for HomePod mini owners is that, despite launching over two years ago, the speaker has secretly been harboring some smart home talents that will soon be unlocked. Matter is built into Apple’s iOS 16, so you can already use a HomePod mini as a Matter smart home controller.
And those temperature and humidity sensors will finally get some use, thanks to the arrival of the HomePod 2. The current suggested use cases, like creating automations for fans or blinds, aren’t exactly earth-shattering and you’ll still need to own some compatible smart devices to make use of them.
But they do hint at a long-promised smart home experience that’s both hands-free and works away in the background to both control your home and help reduce bills.
Maybe it’s time to start looking for some of the best smart home devices.