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HomePod mini update makes it a must-buy for newer iPhone owners – opinion

Apple has delivered the long-awaited support for Ultra Wideband technology for the HomePod mini speaker, providing a great boost for those with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12. Here’s why it’s a gigantic game-changer for the voice-controlled speaker.

Recommending the Apple HomePod range has always been somewhat of a tough-sell for non-iPhone owners. The device is tailored to work better with Siri, Apple Music and HomeKit. That remains the case. We don’t recommend HomePod mini if you’re an Android user, or prefer to get your tunes from Spotify.

However, the addition of software update 14.4 for the HomePod mini means pretty much everyone deep in the Apple ecosystem should add this £99 device – which our reviewer says “punches way above its weight” – to their home set-up.

The key new addition is the support for the U1 Ultra Wideband chip in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 ranges. This long-promised update makes it much easier to hand off music, phone calls and podcasts from a compatible iPhone handset running iOS 14.4.

Ultra Wideband tech promises much more accurate positional data than Bluetooth when two compatible devices are looking to communicate with each other, which really comes into its own in this instance.

The update promises the ability to “hand off music with visual, audible, and haptic effects from ‌iPhone‌ to ‌HomePod mini‌.” Thanks to the U1 update, Apple is also adding the option to show listening suggestions and current media controls, when the phone is brought close to the HomePod mini. Users will also feel haptic feedback from their smartphones. You can guarantee we’ll be adding this to our HomePod mini tips guide.

Here are the full release notes for the update:

  • Hand off music with visual, audible, and haptic effects from iPhone to HomePod mini
  • Get personalized listening suggestions on iPhone when it is next to HomePod mini
  • Media controls automatically appear without having to unlock iPhone when it is close to HomePod mini

Prior to the update, users would still be able to their phone near the HomePod or HomePod mini in order to transfer the currently-playing music, or perform the task manually via the Control Centre. Unfortunately, the new features aren’t available on the original HomePod because it doesn’t contain the U1 Ultra Wideband chip.

HomePod mini gets even better

The HomePod mini was already a compelling proposition, especially compared to the expensive original device. Here at Trusted Reviews we awarded it a perfect five-star score, praising the incredible sound, small form factor, great price and decent voice control. You can also create a stereo sound system by pairing two HomePod minis. Our reviewer points out you can get two for the price of a single Sonos One – and enjoy better sound.

We can’t upgrade the review score any further, but the addition of Ultra Wideband support gives the HomePod mini a unique feature that sets it apart from competitors seeking iPhone owners’ cash.

After an inauspicious start for the range, Apple looks to have mastered yet another form factor and it you’re an iPhone 11/12 user who’s on board with the company’s other services and smart home ecosystem then we’re not sure there’s a better way to spend £99 right now.