Apple slipped a small sensor into the HomePod Mini that can measure the temperature and humidity in a room, according to a report on Monday from Bloomberg. The component, which doesn’t appear to have been previously disclosed, could help bolster Apple’s smart-home ambitions.
The HomePod Mini was launched in November, costing $99 in comparison with the $300 HomePod original. The Siri-powered smart speaker came with new features, including an intercom and stereo pairing. Earlier this month, Apple said it was discontinuing the original HomePod and focusing its efforts on the Mini.
While you might think the sensor is there to prevent the speaker from overheating, Gurman contends that doesn’t seem to be the case, as it’s located in a different part of the speaker from the main components.
What’s more likely is that the sensor is intended to measure the temperature and humidity of a particular room. That in turn could enable the HomePod mini to control smart thermostats or trigger other sorts of actions, like turning on a fan. You know, things that smart home hubs have been able to do for years.
Right now, the sensor isn’t live and there aren’t any features that utilize it for consumers. That’s not too surprising. Apple has a tendency to include certain components, even if the features aren’t fully baked yet, as a means of futureproofing.
For instance, we’ve yet to see the rumored AirTags and yet newer devices like the Apple Watch Series 6, HomePod mini, and the iPhone 11 and 12 lineups, all contain the U1 ultra-wideband chip. Furthermore, competing smart speakers like the Amazon Echo 4th gen also have temperature sensors.