Best daily deals

All products featured are independently chosen by us. However, SoundGuys may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links. See our ethics statement.

Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation) wishlist: All the features I want to see

Apple fans rejoice! Android, keep walking.
By

Published onApril 27, 2024

Apple HomePod mini resting on a windowsill.

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are undoubtedly some of the most popular true wireless earbuds on the market. In addition to releasing blockbuster wireless headphones, Apple tentatively dips its toes into the competitive waters of smart home electronics, and more specifically smart home speakers. Unfortunately, the company’s original HomePod speaker was met with a mixed reception. While 2023’s second-generation HomePod left buyers with a much better impression, it was the HomePod mini that showed there was potential to Apple’s Siri-powered speakers. It brought surprisingly good sound quality, excellent iPhone integration, and a drastically cheaper price tag than its bigger sibling, and it rekindled Apple’s once-dwindling smart home hopes. It is little wonder fans are excited about an updated Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation).

Thus far, Apple has remained tight-lipped about its next-gen smart home speaker. However, trusted industry analysts state that a feature-rich upgrade is headed our way late into 2024. Read ahead for all of the rumors and everything I want to see in the Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation).

Android support

An iPhone and Apple HomePod mini on a windowsill.
You can add multiple people to your home and allow them to control the HomePod mini from their iPhones.

The Apple HomePod (2nd generation) and HomePod mini use Apple AirPlay to stream music from your iPhone. They also come fully equipped with plenty of iOS-specific features. These include seamless Apple Music integration, the “Hey Siri” voice assistant, and the company’s proprietary Handoff function. Those with multiple Apple devices under the same iCloud account can use peer-to-peer AirPlay. Similarly, owning several HomePod mini devices allows stereo playback and the creation of a multi-room audio system.

As is commonplace nowadays, Apple seals its products behind an increasingly higher-walled garden. The HomePod mini is no exception, working only with iPhones and iPads. The HomePod mini uses Apple’s proprietary AirPlay feature to stream music, leaving Android users out of the loop. The speaker does not support Bluetooth audio either, connecting instead over 802.11n Wi-Fi. Downloading a third-party app, like AirMusic, may provide a workaround. However, this connection method is unreliable and not officially supported by Apple. Also, without the “Hey Siri” voice assistant feature, the speaker is a questionable purchase for Android fans regardless. The Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation) should own a more OS-agnostic feature set to scoop up a greater pool of fans.

A microphone mute button

Offering our precious personal data in exchange for the latest gadgetry is a regrettable and unavoidable part of staying “up to date.” Nevertheless, people continue to have reservations about how companies harvest their information. Apple is acutely aware of this, telling its users that the HomePod mini will only listen after hearing the wake phrase. Gracefully, you can disable Siri by saying “Hey Siri, stop listening.”

However, unlike many other smart speakers, the HomePod mini does not house a microphone mute button. This seems like a misstep, given other speaker manufacturers provide this to reassure users that the device is not recording when you don’t want it to. For example, the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo Dot (5th Gen) incorporate a microphone mute button. While both speakers undoubtedly collect data when unmuted, it provides a slither of user control and reassurance. The Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation) would do well to follow in the footsteps of its competitors.

Improved Handoff feature

An aerial close up of the Apple HomePod (2nd Generation) with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro in the background.
Just hold an iPhone up to the HomePod to start setup.

Apple Handoff is a continuity feature that allows users to carry out tasks across multiple iOS devices seamlessly. For example, you can begin an email on your iPhone and finish it later on your Mac. Apple Handoff is compatible with many iOS-specific applications, including Calendar, Contacts, Pages, and Safari. Users must be logged into iCloud with the same Apple ID on each device for the feature to work.

The Apple HomePod mini uses the company’s Handoff feature to transfer audio when your iPhone or iPad is nearby. However, with a roughly 30cm Bluetooth connectivity range, this feature can cause some annoyance. For example, suppose your iPhone is close enough for the HomePod mini to recognize it, but far enough away that a connection cannot occur. In that case, your phone will vibrate and notify you to move it closer to the speaker for Handoff. This alert can become grating if your speaker is situated in a place you pass frequently. The Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation) could use a more accurate Handoff feature when it comes to fruition.

Integrated Spotify access

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming platforms in the world. Users can decide between two tiers; Free Spotify and Spotify Premium. The former provides a more limited and somewhat unpleasant user experience. For example, you can only skip six tracks per hour and specific songs cannot be selected for playback. Similarly, your streaming is frequently and randomly interrupted by deliberately obnoxious adverts to persuade you to upgrade to Spotify Premium. Forking out for a monthly subscription does provide a much nicer experience with no adverts, unlimited song skipping, and offline listening.

iPhone and iPad users may stream their favorite songs from Spotify with the Apple HomePod mini. Unfortunately, there is no direct Spotify integration. Instead, users must navigate to the “Devices” page in the Spotify player and select the HomePod mini. This lack of direct Spotify access can cause the speaker to intermittently switch between streaming music from Spotify to streaming from Apple Music. I hope the Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation) will host direct Spotify integration at launch.

An IP-rated design

Like earbuds, speakers often come equipped with IP ratings to protect them against dust and water damage. The durability of each rating differs, from absolutely no resistance to total dust ingress and submersion in water. Most workout buds wear at least an IPX4 water-resistant rating to guard against omnidirectional water splashes. Similarly, wireless speakers like the JBL Charge 5 often house an IP67 water and dust-resistant rating. This protects against submersion in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes and is completely dust-tight.

The Apple HomePod mini has no such protective IP rating. The mesh fabric coasting is easy to stain and it has no shield against liquids or dust. Okay, smart home speakers are rarely taken outside or exposed to the elements, but it is impossible to foresee when a cup of tea might slip from your grasp. When spending nearly $100, users take solace in knowing that their precious tech is safe. I want the Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation) to wear a robust IP rating when it comes to market.

What would you like to see Apple bring to the Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation)?

2 votes

Will there be an Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation)?

Ming-Chi-Kuo reports the Apple HomePod mini 2 will start mass shipments in the second half of 2024.
Ming-Chi Kuo
Ming-Chi-Kuo reports the Apple HomePod mini 2 will start mass shipments in the second half of 2024.

From the Apple AirPods 2 and AirPods 3 to the HomePod (2nd generation), the company is a leading player in the audio electronics sphere. However, the latter came to market two years and three months after the launch of the HomePod mini and owns an almost identical feature set. Most bizarrely, the larger HomePod (2nd generation) owns a threefold price tag upon its smaller and older sibling. Price-savvy iOS users are rightly waiting for the announcement of the HomePod mini (2nd generation) before upgrading their smart home system.

Thankfully, an upgrade to the HomePod mini brand looks set to take center stage. On February 3, 2023, trusted industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shared on X (formerly Twitter) that Goertek has secured assembly orders for the HomePod mini 2. Kuo also states that the new Apple speaker will begin mass shipments in the second half of 2024. It is unclear what name the new Apple HomePod mini speaker will adorn.

  • Apple HomePod mini — November 16, 2020

It has been three years and five months since the original Apple HomePod Mini came to market. Since then, the company has not refreshed its HomePod mini product category. This makes it difficult to gauge an exact release window for the next-generation speaker. However, its larger siblings, the HomePod and HomePod (2nd Generation), came to shelves on February 9, 2018, and February 23, 2023, respectively. Strangely, the HomePod mini‌ was announced in October 2020 alongside the iPhone 12. This marked a shift from Apple’s tradition of announcing its new iPhones in September. With that being the case, we could see the HomePod mini (2nd generation) come to market in October 2024. However, it seems more likely that the company’s feature-rich upgrade will be announced alongside the new iPhone 16 in September 2024.

Should you wait for the Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation)?

Womans hand about to tap the touchpad of the Apple HomePod mini.
The touch controls on the Apple HomePod mini are pretty intuitive.

If you own an iPhone or iPad and are in the business of smart home speakers, then the Apple HomePod mini will make a great addition to your home. The HomePod mini is available from the company’s website and most major retailers including Amazon and Best Buy. However, if you are keen on the latest tech and the potential of utilizing Apple’s rumored S10 chip, it may be worth waiting a few more months for the Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation).

That said, the Apple HomePod mini ($79.99 at Best Buy) delivers surprisingly good sound and a rich feature set on a shoestring budget. The speaker intelligently distinguishes between different voices, and the microphone reliably hears the wake phrase. Unlike some smart speakers, setting up the HomePod mini is a breeze thanks to streamlined Apple integration and the “Hey Siri” voice assistant. Those who invest in multiple copies of the speaker can enjoy stereo audio and a multi-room setup. Similarly, the HomePod mini includes a handy intercom feature to speak to other rooms in the house. Apple AirPlay is compatible with any Apple device, and the company’s Handoff feature is useful when it works. There is no AUX input or microphone mute button here, but you could do much worse for sub-$100.

Those craving a microphone mute button will enjoy the similarly-priced Amazon Echo (4th Gen) ($99 at Amazon.) This speaker uses the Alexa assistant and adorns a similar form factor to Apple’s HomePod mini. The sound quality is pleasing, with extra bass reproduction for bass heads and those who listen to a lot of EDM. Downloading the Alexa app is vital for the initial setup process of the device. It also controls volume, Bluetooth device pairing, alarms, and selecting whether the aux is used as an input or an output. The Amazon Echo (4th Gen) can also be used in multi-room groups and connected with a second speaker or subwoofer. Unlike the Apple HomePod mini, the Echo (4th Gen) has Spotify Connect built-in. It also runs Bluetooth 5.0 so you can use it like a normal Bluetooth speaker if and when your source device cannot connect to Wi-Fi.

An Apple iPhone 13 Pro displays the initial setup card of the Apple HomePod (2nd generation) next to the smart speaker.
No iPhone? Good luck!

Those invested in the Google ecosystem should consider the Google Nest Audio ($99.99 at Best Buy.) Out of the box, users gain integrated access to Chromecast and YouTube Music. Like the Amazon Echo (4th Gen), the Google Nest Audio houses a microphone mute button. It also uses a verbal prompt to confirm when it is muted. Handy bespoke features include Ambient IQ, which automatically adjusts the volume level based on the amount of environmental noise. The speaker also uses Google’s proprietary Media EQ function to alter the sound signature to the specific media type you are streaming. Stereo playback is supported, and the speaker works seamlessly with other Google Nest and Google Home products to deliver multiroom sound. Smart home enthusiasts will relish the ability to broadcast to the Google Nest Audio from your phone when away from home.

If saying “Hey, Siri” is your preferred voice assistant phrase, then the Apple HomePod (2nd generation) ($299 at Adorama) is the best alternative. This speaker owns a louder and more bassy sound profile than its smaller, cheaper sibling. Those with multiple HomePod products can sync Apple’s newest smart home speaker for stereo audio. An advanced on-board computational audio system tailors the sound to your environment, should you wish. As with the HomePod mini, the HomePod (2nd generation) works seamlessly with Apple AirPlay, the Siri voice assistant, and Apple Handoff. Unfortunately, audio-visual lag is also a frequent issue and the speaker does not support direct Spotify access.

Apple HomePod MiniApple HomePod Mini
Apple HomePod Mini
Recognizes multiple voices • Best HomeKit speaker • Lots of fun colors
MSRP: $99.99
Apple's smart speaker gets a little smaller
If you're an Apple HomeKit user, you will definitely want a smart speaker for your 'Hey Siri' commands. The Apple HomePod Mini is worth a look in this regard, as it carries the features you need for a robust smart home experience.

FAQs

There is no confirmation of the Apple HomePod mini (2nd generation) at present. However, trusted industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the next-gen smart home speaker will come to market in the second half of 2024.

The Apple HomePod mini 2 is still yet to be released. However, like its predecessor, it will likely pair most harmoniously with iPhones and iPads.

If you enjoy stereo sound, multiroom audio, or Apple’s Intercom feature, then it is certainly worth purchasing two Apple HomePod mini devices. However, you need only grab one device if your sole use revolves around voice assistant features and same-room music streaming.

The Apple HomePod (1st generation) was discontinued on March 12, 2021. Despite selling millions of units worldwide, it received a mixed response for its clunky feature set. The HomePod (2nd generation) came to market on February 23, 2023, seeking to revamp the company’s smart home catalog. Unfortunately, it shared many of the same features as its smaller and cheaper sibling, the Apple HomePod mini.

You might like