On November 16th, 2020, the smart speaker market's newest contender enters the game —Apple’s HomePod mini.
Apple knows that Siri cannot compete with Alexa or Google Assistant; they are late to the market. Therefore, Apple focused on sound quality. The original HomePod’s sound quality is unbeatable.
Apple’s HomePod was priced at $349 on release, making it the most expensive smart speaker on the market. Even though the HomePod had superior sound quality, the price tag did not sit well with consumers.
With the HomePod mini, Apple introduces a cheaper entry-level smart speaker to tickle people’s interest in a smart speaker within the Apple echo system.
With a price tag of $99, which entry-level smart speaker is most suitable for you? HomePod mini, Echo Dot, or Google Nest Mini?
The answer is: it depends on your needs. In this story, I’ll discuss the different aspects of the different smart speakers; Price; smart home integration, sound quality, and the smart assistant.
Entry-level speakers’ prices
The HomePod costs $99, and it is the newest smart speaker. The fabric-covered spherical design with a flat backlit touch interface on the top looks and feels qualitative.
The 4th generation Echo Dot costs $49.99 for the standard model and $59.99 for the version with the built-in LED clock. And the Google Nest Mini costs $49.
The HomePod mini costs twice as much as its entry-level competitors, making it the most expensive entry-level smart speaker.
Smart home integration
It is no wonder that Amazon’s Echo devices offer the best smart home integration. They are compatible with almost every smart home appliance out there.
After you set up your Echo, you can link several different music services, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Spotify, Tidal, TuneIn, and Vevo.
The Nest Mini is compatible with a large number of smart home appliances. It is also part of the Nest smart home family of thermostats, cameras, doorbells, locks, and alarms. The smart speaker can be linked with multiple music streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora, Deezer, among others.
The HomePod mini smart home integration is limited. Not all smart home products are compatible with HomeKit. Apple asks for licensing fees if a company decided to use the “works with Apple HomeKit” slogan on its box. I’ve discussed Apple licensing fees in a previous post:
Apple MagSafe Is the USB-C Killer
We might never see a USB-C iPhone now that MagSafe is here.
One can use Airplay to stream music to the HomePod. Still, due to the lack of Siri’s support, one cannot ask Siri to play music directly from Spotify, Youtube Music, or any other service other than Apple Music.
There are rumors that Spotify support might be coming soon to the HomePod.
The shortcoming of Apple’s smart home capability can be due to Apple’s late entry into the smart speaker market. The HomePod mini’s pricetag and broader acceptance may change the status quo as we advance. The more HomePod minis on the market, the more smart home devices will become compatible with HomeKit.
As mentioned before, Apple set its focus on sound quality. The tech giant plan is to offer the best sound quality — The original HomePod has a superior sound quality by far than any of its competitors.
According to Apple, the 3.3-inch device’s sound is room-filling. If you own two or more HomePods in one room, they can be connected to offer a better experience.
If the HomePod mini is anything like the HomePod, one can assume it will have an amazing sound quality compared to its size.
It is no secret that Siri is not the smartest assistant out there. Apple’s smart assistant is becoming smarter with every new update from Apple, but it is still miles behind Alexa and Google Assistant.
Alexa can learn new skills from the thousands of skills available, and Google is doing amazing steps with its assistant year after year.
Siri, on the other hand, is good at basic functions. Depending on how many Apple services one uses, the Siri experience can differ completely. For example, if you use Notes, Calendar, or Apple Music on your smartphone, Siri on the HomePod will manage these Apple services for you.
HomePod mini is designed with the Apple ecosystem in its core.
I have the original Amazon Echo in my house. We use it to play music, set timers, and control the living room's Philip Hue lights. For the rest of the house, we use our iOS devices to control the lights and heating. We are not fans of complete home automation.
However, with an Apple TV or an Apple HomePod, one can set smart routines for the house using the Home App on iOS or iPad.
Since we only use our smart assistant for limited jobs, Siri will be more than capable of handling those. We use iOS devices, iPads, and MacBooks in our household; the HomePod mini will support us in closing the circle to complete our integration within Apple’s echo system.
The HomePod mini is marketed towards people with iOS devices and other Apple products. It slacks behind Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini in terms of price, smart home integration, and the “smartness” of the digital assistant. In terms of total integration within Apple’s echo system and sound quality, the HomePod is ahead of the competitors.
Walid Al Otaibi -WAO- is a top writer in Gaming and Technology. He works at an engineering company in Germany. He comes from a multicultural background and is located in Germany since 2003. He is writing about Arab Culture, Multiculturalism, Finance, and Trending topics.