Why Does Apple’s HomePod Have a Temperature Sensor?

A photo of the HomePod Mini

The HomePod Mini’s dormant temperature sensor is now stay. However what does it do?
Picture: Alex Cranz /

The sensible dwelling has turn out to be a renewed precedence for corporations since Matter launched, quickly to usher in all types of refreshed devices. Till not too long ago, Apple was trailing behind a bit when it comes to choices, which is why we’re buzzing over the revelation of a temperature sensor not solely within the brand-new HomePod but in addition within the practically three-year-old HomePod Mini.

So what’s the purpose of a temperature sensor inside a sensible speaker? The easy reply is that it will possibly spit out stats about your room after which automate different gadgets to do one thing about it. As was confirmed by an iFixit tear-down a couple of years again, the HomePod Mini’s been harboring a digital humidity and temperature sensor all this time. However Apple solely made it out there in the present day, simply because it concurrently introduced the second-gen HomePod. The temperature sensor isn’t clustered alongside the remainder of the circuitry contained in the bulb. It’s positioned so far as doable from the inside {hardware} to concentrate on measuring the surface temperature.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who reported years in the past concerning the existence of this sensor, recommended the rationale for this addition was to assist with automation inside Apple’s Residence ecosystem. Gurman wrote that the presence of the sensor might assist the HomePod Mini “routinely set off different actions, say turning a fan on or off, relying on the temperature.” On the time of launch, the HomePod Mini was competing alongside full-fledged sensible hubs just like the fourth-gen Amazon Echo speaker and the second-gen Google Nest Hub, each of which had temperature sensors baked in and out there to be used. The Nest Hub, specifically, makes use of its ambient room temperature outcomes to inform whether or not the local weather of the room you’re in is disrupting your sleep.

Now that Apple’s made the temperature sensor identified within the HomePod Mini, I up to date it to the most recent iOS 16.3 beta to see if it will allow the readings within the Apple Residence app. It did! It took some time to calibrate, which Apple says within the footnotes is a factor that it does. It additionally permits me to arrange automation for the temperature and humidity stats individually.

That is the place I performed with the Apple Residence app’s automation picker to see what I might do within the sensible dwelling. On the New Automation display screen, choose the set off to be when *A Sensor Detects One thing*. Then, select whether or not you wish to use the temperature or humidity sensor contained in the HomePod Mini to activate the automation and what it ought to activate. For example, if the heater is blasting and the temperature rises, you may want a wifi-connected sensible fan turned on to assist disperse the new air round the home. Sensible bulbs might be useful on this scenario, too. You would possibly select to have them flip a selected colour when the temperature will get too excessive—I might have used this when my child was a new child, as I by no means knew if the room was the precise temperature for her or if it was simply my hormones making it excessive. Apple additionally mentions the power to open or shut a set of blinds with this type of automation for when the humidity kicks up, which is feasible with a model like Lutron with its Serena curler shades. And when you commute to and from an workplace, you need to use the temperature sensor within the HomePod Mini to activate the warmth earlier than you get dwelling, offered it’s after a sure time once you’re often anticipated to stroll via the door.

Sure, these skills, are form of foolish. However they’re the form of factor you are able to do if bragging rights to your sensible dwelling are a precedence. Sadly, I don’t have any related ceiling followers or sensible blinds to check the precise efficacy of the automation. However I can ask Siri concerning the temperature and humidity studying of my workplace particularly, the place the HomePod Mini is at the moment stationed—Siri says the humidity is excessive!

Screenshots of the Apple Home app

On the left: Apple Residence app lets me arrange an automation scheme utilizing simply the HomePod Mini’s temperature sensor; On the precise: Apple Residence app exhibits the present temperature and humidity readings.
Screenshot: Florence Ion /

There’s one different use case that I’m curious to see if it turns into part of the HomePod expertise, each for the second-gen and the Mini. iFixit’s 2021 teardown of the HomePod Mini mentions that the temperature sensor might assist modify the speaker’s audio output for “totally different traits of the encompassing air,” citing {that a} characteristic like this is able to be “doubtlessly extra groundbreaking” than merely telling a third-party gadget what to activate or off based mostly on the temperature in a room. It caught my eye as a result of it matches Apple’s description of how the second-gen HomePod works. In its press launch, the corporate mentions it makes use of “room-sensing know-how” to assist the HomePod adapt to sound in real-time. So, whereas the temperature sensor will most likely assist inform whether or not your room might use some cool air, it may also show to be important in Apple’s Spatial Audio calibration.

The HomePod Mini doesn’t boast the identical spatial audio capabilities, so there’s no approach to check it from that angle. Finally, we’ll have to attend for the brand new HomePod to hit cabinets on Feb. 5 earlier than we are able to determine what the temperature sensor can do. At the very least now I can ask Siri whether or not the coolness I’m feeling in my room is me or that nobody’s pumped the warmth in a couple of hours.

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