Apple HomePod Mini Hides Inactive Temperature and Humidity Sensor: Report
The Apple HomePod mini smart speaker contains an unused temperature and humidity sensor unmentioned by Apple, according to a Bloomberg report. The sensor is inactive right now but could be switched on with a firmware update enabling the the smart speaker to monitor and manage a room’s environmental conditions.
Heat and Humidity
The reports describe a tiny 1.5 mm square chip built by Texas Instruments located on the bottom of the HomePod mini, close to where the power cable plugs into the smart speaker. The sensor’s location would give it the ability to measure the surrounding temperature and humidity. The sensor appears to be fully integrated into the HomePod mini, allowing it to wirelessly adjust smart thermostats, fans, or windows based on the user’s preferences after connecting the other devices to the smart speaker. Presumably, they would all continue to function through the Apple HomeKit ecosystem of smart home devices. There are dozens of HomeKit thermostats, but they all rely on temperature sensors not provided by the smart speaker.
Smart Home Heating Up
When Apple debuted the HomePod mini last fall, it was seen as an entry-level option for Apple’s smart speakers. However, with the end of the standard HomePod seemingly in view, the scaled-down version will be the only Apple choice. While the $99 price tag for high-end Apple hardware, automatic syncing between multiple HomePod minis with the Intercom feature, and the connection to Siri are attractive to some, it still has to compete with the much more widely used smart speakers produced by Amazon and Google.
Without the regular HomePod and with the rumored cancellation of other HomePod projects, the HomePod mini is left trying to be everything to every potential customer. Activating the sensor could help the HomePod mini compete with Amazon Echo and Google Nest smart home networks. An integrated thermometer in the HomePod mini could offer a counterpoint for sales against the similarly equipped Echo smart speaker. The Google Nest lacks a built-in thermometer, relying instead on Nest-specific sensors that users can place around their home to check the temperature. Still, Apple will have to attract more than its current HomePod fans to make the HomePod mini a viable competitor, otherwise, as Voicebot founder Bret Kinsella put it last year, the mini will just be “too little, too late.”