Palms-on with the Apple HomePod Mini’s new temperature sensing function

Whereas the type of new HomePod grabbed all the eye this week, the HomePod Mini can be getting some new options. With the launch of iOS 16.3 (doubtless later this month), the Mini will get all the identical good residence capabilities as the brand new, larger HomePod second-gen. The variations between the 2 Apple speaker siblings are actually primarily in measurement and sound functionality. From new temperature and humidity sensing tips to the flexibility to search out your loved ones for you and even arrange automations with simply your voice, these new options ought to make the HomePod Mini a little bit extra helpful round the home.

These new options convey some much-needed performance to the HomePod line

Each HomePods are additionally getting a Sound Recognition function later this yr, permitting them to hear for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. I noticed a preview of this, and it seems to be like a helpful integration, permitting you to speak on to anybody in your house via the HomePod from a notification in your lock display screen. However my favourite new functionality is one thing Siri now gained’t do — which is to speak again to you each time you ask it to show off the lights. I like my voice assistants to say as little as attainable.

The brand new capabilities will present up robotically when you replace your gadgets to iOS 16.3 and HomePod software program model 16.3, which must be out there later this month. Nonetheless, the Launch Candidate of the iOS 16.3 beta landed on Wednesday, so I downloaded it to get an early have a look at a few of these new options. Listed here are some first impressions.

Temperature and humidity sensing

We’ve identified that the HomePod Mini had a temperature and humidity sensor onboard for some time, however it’s been dormant since launch. With HomePod software program model 16.3, the chip is getting its wake-up name, and as soon as your HomePod Mini is up to date, it could actually begin to monitor the temperature and humidity for you within the room it’s in.

You possibly can see the readings at a look within the Residence app on iOS and iPad OS gadgets which are additionally up to date to 16.3. The simplest approach is to faucet on the Local weather shortcut on the high of the homescreen, which reveals the readings of all temperature and humidity sensors in your house.

I couldn’t set the HomePod to ship a notification when the temperature or humidity adjustments

Within the app, you too can see the readings on the high of the room the speaker is in. If in case you have a number of temperature sensors within the room, it should show a median of them. Faucet on the studying to get to the person sensor’s readings and settings.

Right here, you’ll be able to rename the sensors. Oddly, the HomePod sensors confirmed up with completely different default names on every of the 2 HomePod Minis I’ve. On one, they got here via as Humidity Sensor and Temperature Sensor, and on the opposite, they got here via with a extra generic HomePod Sensor136480.

You possibly can create automations from this settings web page to do issues like set off different good residence gadgets to reply to the temperature or humidity rising above or dropping under a sure threshold. You may as well create scenes and automations utilizing the sensors via the automations tab of the app.

As with most Apple Residence automations, you’ll be able to set parameters utilizing time (any time, through the day, at night time, or particular occasions) and / or folks (when any individual is residence, when I’m residence, when no person is residence, or when I’m not residence).

I efficiently created an automation to activate the warmth on the mini-split unit in my bed room to 68 levels Fahrenheit when the temperature drops under 66 levels Fahrenheit after which to activate the AC when it will get above 76.

I additionally examined the HomePod Mini’s readings towards an Aqara indoor air high quality monitor, they usually had been constantly shut, solely various by a level at anyone time on temperature and by round 2 % on humidity.

Apple does warn that the sensors are optimized for ambient temperatures round 69 levels Fahrenheit and 86 levels Fahrenheit and that accuracy isn’t assured when the speaker is taking part in music for lengthy durations of time at excessive volumes. (I haven’t examined this but.)

My favourite new functionality is one thing Siri now gained’t do.

Different potential automations the sensors could possibly be used for embody decreasing good shades if the temperature rises within the afternoon when the solar might add radiant warmth to the room — or to activate a fan linked to a sensible plug when the temperature rises or activate a appropriate good humidifier when the humidity drops under a sure level.

One factor I would love to have the ability to do this I couldn’t is about it to ship a notification when the temperature or humidity adjustments considerably — which might be useful, say, in a nursery.

A white HomePod Mini on a desk with a white sensor with an LCD screen next to it.

The HomePod Mini and the Aqara TVOC sensor had related readings.

At present, it seems to be like you’ll be able to solely arrange automations with the sensors in Apple Residence, not third-party HomeKit apps equivalent to Eve, Residence Plus, and Controller, as HomePod audio system don’t present up in these different apps. This doubtless means the sensors additionally gained’t be uncovered to Matter, however that hasn’t been confirmed.

You may as well ask Siri what the temperature or humidity is within the room, and it’ll reply with a selected studying from its sensor or a median when you have a number of sensors within the room.

A white HomePod Mini on a desk by a window.

The HomePod Mini can now let you know the place your family and friends are.

Discover your loved ones

The HomePod Mini can now monitor your loved ones and buddies for you in addition to any gadgets you’ve linked to Discover My via AirTags or any Discover My-enabled gadgets. Simply say, “Hey Siri, the place is [insert name of a family member or friend or item]?”

I discover Apple’s Discover My function to be a bit spotty. It at all times struggles to search out my daughter, who has an Apple Watch, not an iPhone. However I examined this function on my son together with his iPhone 13, and it positioned him simply, replying together with his distance and site to a close-by deal with. I additionally examined it with an AirTag linked to a backpack, and it responded precisely.

Arrange Apple Residence automations along with your voice

Now you can arrange recurring Apple Residence automations utilizing Siri on the HomePod Mini. I attempted to create one to lock my entrance door each night time at 9PM and had a little bit hassle at first. The language must be very exact; it didn’t like “each night time,” so I needed to say “daily.” However I finally received it to work with this language:

“Hey Siri, set an automation to lock the entrance door at 9PM daily.”

Siri replied with a affirmation: “I’ve set the Yale lock to lock at 9PM beginning this night.”

I’m unsure how a lot I’ll use this capability, personally, however I can see it being a precursor to Siri doubtlessly suggesting to arrange automations for you, just like Amazon Alexa’s hunches function.

Siri now says much less

Siri is my most well-liked voice assistant for good residence management, primarily as a result of it doesn’t attempt to muscle in on the dialog as a lot as a few of its rivals. However these days, it’s grow to be extra verbose. This replace fixes that considerably by changing the typically lengthy affirmation of actions following a sensible residence command with only a mushy ding ding.

This is applicable to actions that contain gadgets not in the identical room because the HomePod (for which Siri already solely performs a affirmation sound) or ones that don’t present a visible change — like a heater.

Now, after I ask Siri on the HomePod Mini to show the lights off in, say, the kitchen whereas I am within the bed room, as a substitute of confirming audibly that the lights are off, there’s only a small sound to point that my will has been carried out.

Nonetheless, if one thing goes fallacious, it should nonetheless say, “I attempted however some gadgets didn’t reply.”

Ambient sounds can now be a part of scenes and automations

Lastly, Apple says it’s remastered the ambient sounds on the HomePod Mini, together with ocean, white noise, hearth, and rain. These noises can now be added to scenes, automations, and alarms.

I examined this out with a Bedtime Scene I’ve that turns off lights, locks the doorways, and adjusts the thermostat, and I used to be ready so as to add ocean sounds taking part in on the HomePod to it. I might set the amount it could play at when the scene was activated, however I couldn’t set a time for it to show off, which is one thing I’d wish to see added.

General, these new options convey some much-needed performance to the HomePod line (all of them will likely be on the brand new HomePod, too), which has been taking part in catch-up when it comes to performance to Amazon’s Echo gadgets. These audio system have had sound recognition for some time now. In addition they can act as movement sensors and may reply in a whisper for those who discuss quietly to them, options I’d wish to see come to the HomePod line, too. Simply so long as Siri doesn’t choose up on Alexa’s “by the way in which” behavior, the place Amazon’s assistant presents what it thinks is useful info solely unprompted. It’s not often useful and sometimes entails asking you to spend cash.

Images by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

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