HomePod mini — Unboxing Apple’s New Orange!

Yeah, now they come in colors.

The hardware hasn’t changed — the HomePod mini is still a 3.3-inch softball or… grapefruit sized orb of Aldur that sits on your shelf, table, or desk and gives you a high quality 3D audio soundstage, just not one as booming as the original HomePod biggie.

I still love the way it looks, classic white or black, and the new yellow, orange, and blue. Only regret is that Apple didn’t match all the new iMacs an go full in on green, purple, and red as well. But who knows, if these sell, maybe we’ll get more next spring or fall.

I still love the sound as well, again, not as booming as the HomePod biggie, but those are almost impossible to find now, and if you want more than corner-filling sound, you can add more mini’s to fill out more corners for less the cost of the OG.

For more on the hardware and base functionality, I’ll drop a link to my previous review in the description, right below the like button.

If you want to use Apple Music, but you don’t want to pay a lot for it, there’s a new $5 voice plan. Basically you can tell Siri to spin up songs and playlists, you just don’t get the full Music app interface experience to go with it.

That’s mostly how I use Apple Music now but only mostly, and the value of the family plan is still terrific so while I’m glad there are more options, I’m not downgrading any time soon.

And if Apple Music just isn’t your bag, baby, there’s an API that lets any and every other service tie in now instead. Just say which one you want to use and Siri will learn and start defaulting to your preference.

And, yeah, Siri is still… Siri. It’s been steadily improving ever since John Gianandrea took over AI at Apple, and it can answer more questions than ever, but that’s never really been the issue with Siri — it’s always been about consistency, or the lack thereof.

Before, it felt like 1 out of every 10 queries were being sent to some old un-updated magic 8-ball server in a Results Way closet. No… 1 out of every 20?
But at the same time functionality has disappeared and come back over the last year. “Play infinity War on Apple TV” from “Ok” to “Sorry I can’t do that on HomePod” to “Ok, now playing” and back again just can’t ever happen. Not ever.

So Apple has to both enforce zero regression at the engineering level, keep up the pressure on the intelligence level until error are closer to 1 out of every 1000, 10,000, or more. Because reliability is just the cornerstone of any assistant, digital or otherwise.

Otherwise, I just love the whole idea of ambient computing. Voice isn’t fast, you can’t just tap, you have to talk. And you can’t just visually parse from large quantities of text on a screen, you have to listen. And that verbosity takes time and prevents skimming. But it’s just so convenient.

Often, when I’m working, I get Siri to send and read messages, open and close curtains and lights, spell words for me, even fact check, all while my hands and attention are still focused on my editing or writing.

It’s still not JARVIS or FRIDAY, or even the SiriOS of my dreams, but each year, every year, it’s getting just a little bit less HammerTech. So all the AI fingers crossed.

One of my favorite things lately is how much better Siri on HomePod has gotten at sending visual or mobile information to my iPhone, like longer search results, and maps. I can ask while I’m getting ready, then take it with me I as I walk out the door.