HomePod mini
Mac Life|February 2021
The little speaker with a big, big sound
By Rob Mead–Green

$99 From Apple, apple.com

Features Full–range drive with dual passive radiators, 360° sound, 4x microphones for far-field Siri, stereo pair capable, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Thread, Ultra-wideband chip, 3.9x3.3in, 0.76lb

If a week is a long time in politics, then three years is a lifetime in tech, something that’s particularly true for Apple’s HomePod. The $299 smart speaker was announced in 2017, arrived in 2018 to a flurry of positive reviews about its incredible sound quality, then more or less sank without a trace, overwhelmed by a tsunami of cheaper, inferior–sounding speakers featuring Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

While the HomePod sounded better than most of its rivals, its weak spots were its price and its Siri/Apple Music integration. Siri (still) has a lot of catching up to do before it can rival Alexa and Google Assistant, while the wall Apple erected around the HomePod meant music services that weren’t Apple Music rather got left out, limiting the speaker’s appeal.

Now Apple is having a second go-around, this time with the HomePod mini. Smaller, semi-spherical, and costing just $99, it promises to address some of the original HomePod’s shortcomings, while also being much more keenly priced.

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