The next smart speaker from Apple is about to be announced, it seems. Not only will it come at an amazingly low price, way less than anyone would have expected from an Apple product, but it will also pack surprising components.

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What’s more, it’s been described as “an important product”. Here’s what we know.

You said it’s how much?

The Apple HomePod is a sensational hi-fi smart speaker, sounding better than its rivals. But, from day one, it has been perceived as being pricey. It originally sold for $349 when it launched in early 2018, though has now dropped to $299.

As such, it’s much pricier than its rivals. Apple has consistently promoted the HomePod as a high-quality music speaker that happened to have smart capabilities, unlike most devices which are smart first and hi-fi second.

The latest reports say that a new, smaller speaker, likely to be called the HomePod Mini, is rumored to be landing at next Tuesday’s Apple Event.

And now, tipster Kang has stated on Weibo that the HomePod Mini price will be very keen: $99.

That’s pretty surprising, matching the sticker for the new Google Nest Audio, which is suddenly its most direct competitor, not least because its many strong reviews have included praise for the sound quality (I agree, it does sound very good).

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Why it’s an important product

For this, we must turn to another leaker, the highly regarded Jon Prosser, who says that it’s “actually a UWB (ultra wide-band) hub in disguise”.

Why that matters is that UWB is something that has been in the iPhone 11 for a year and hasn’t yet seen its full potential realized. It’s expected in the next iPhones and other products, so it will, Prosser says, “serve as a UWB hub in home, to interact with other UWB powered devices in your house (iPhone, Watch AirPods etc).”

Prosser even explains why all this is important, saying “As I mentioned before, UWB (integrated with the U1 chip) is the next big standard for Apple. It’s just as important as wifi and bluetooth. Not only is it incredibly accurate for location tracking, but it’s also super fast for data transfer.”

The directional element is what we’ve seen most clearly so far, so that when you are sending something by AirDrop, it can order the appropriate gadgets more effectively.

But these extra features add surprising new functionality and, if executed as smoothly as you’d expect Apple to ensure, could make the HomePod mini something special.

Not long now until we know everything.


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