HomePod mini has a secret sensor waiting to be turned on
Apple’s HomePod mini speaker launched last November with new features like a home intercom system. But part of the device has remained secret: a sensor that measures temperature and humidity
The Cupertino, Calif.-Based tech giant has never disclosed this component and the device currently lacks features for consumers who use it. The company has discussed internally using the sensor to determine the temperature and humidity of a room so that internet-connected thermostats can adjust different parts of a home based on current conditions, according to people familiar with the room. the situation. The material could also let the HomePod mini automatically trigger other actions, for example turning a fan on or off, depending on the temperature.
Yes Apple allows the sensor in the long term, this would reinforce a smart home strategy that has sometimes lacked concentration and has lagged behind those of its rivals. from amazon latest Echo speakers have temperature sensors, while Google’s nest sells sensors that can be placed around homes and connect to its thermostats to adjust the temperature in each room.
The new capabilities would be a particular boon for an Apple software system called HomeKit that controls thermostats, lights, locks, outlets, and other devices in the home. HomeKit works with fewer gadgets than similar software from Amazon and Google and Apple doesn’t make its own smart home hardware beyond the HomePod and Apple tv mailing box. However, Apple’s website has around 40 HomeKit-compatible thermostats.
The sensor, measuring 1.5 by 1.5 millimeters, is buried in the bottom edge of the HomePod mini’s fabric-wrapped plastic casing near its power cable. The location of the component was confirmed by iFixit, which took one of the speakers apart after a Bloomberg News investigation. The sensor is made by Texas Instruments Inc. and is called the HDC2010 digital humidity and temperature sensor, according to TechInsights, a company that analyzes components inside electronics.
The room is located relatively far from the main internal components of the device, which means that it is designed to measure the external environment rather than the temperature of the other electronic components of the speaker. Many mobile devices include sensors that can trigger the device to slow performance or turn off features to stop components from overheating.
While rare, this isn’t the first time Apple has slipped dormant technology into its devices. The 2008 iPod touch had a Bluetooth chip, but support for Bluetooth connectivity was enabled the following year through software. Apple typically releases major HomePod software updates every year in the fall. It’s unclear if or when Apple will turn on the temperature sensor, but its presence in the HomePod mini units already sold suggests it’s only a matter of time. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
Apple didn’t have a serious offering in the smart home market until 2018 with the original HomePod. This device was discontinued recently after poor sales. Some company decision makers fear it is too late for Apple to make a strong entry into the industry, especially as it is focusing on other new categories such as virtual and augmented reality headsets. and autonomous electric cars. Others think the business can take its time and that customers will always be interested.
Apple hosts virtual event to unveil 5G iPhone models
Some insiders blame the lack of progress so far in the house on Siri, Apple’s voice recognition service which, while improving, is still considered late Google Assistant and that of Amazon Alexa. Whatever the reason, no unifying strategy has emerged so far, said one of the people familiar with the situation. People asked not to be identified to discuss sensitive issues. It comes after Apple looked to revamp its smart home efforts with a new team that it started training in 2019.
Apple continues to take advantage of this opportunity by updating individual devices. Before the larger HomePod shutdown, the company was working on an updated version for release in 2022. It was also developing new speakers with displays and cameras, but such a launch is not imminent. Apple is also working on an update to the Apple TV decoder. In the meantime, Apple will probably try to unlock the most features of the HomePod mini.
© 2021 Bloomberg LP
Significant changes are taking place with the Orbital podcast. We discussed it on Orbital, our weekly tech podcast, to which you can subscribe via Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download episode, or just hit the play button below.