Can't anyone keep a secret these days? It appears not, after images seeming to show the long-rumored Apple HomePod Mini surfaced online.
Twitter user @evleaks (opens in new tab) posted the images, only hours before Apple's virtual launch event – which is widely expected to show off the iPhone 12. However, it now seems that something in the world of smart speakers may be in store.
The images show two orb-shaped smart speakers in "space gray and white" coloring, which matches the color options of the original HomePod. There's little to go on right now other than the images – certainly no specs – though the lattice design and coloring certainly seem in keeping with what we'd expect.
We've seen evidence that Apple is trying to get rid of its existing HomePod stock, and heard many a rumor of a smaller HomePod model being in the works for some time now (the price was a big put-off for the original). This may be shown to be a well-timed trolling ahead of the official Apple event tonight, though, and we'll have to wait until 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST to be sure.
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One of the most interesting things about these leaked images is the shape. Rather than the cylindrical shape of the original 2018 HomePod, the Mini iteration appears more spherical, with a far larger light (or panel?) on the upper side, which likely lights up when reacting to voice commands.
It's not a far cry from the new Amazon Echo (2020), which was unveiled in September, and has a similar orb-like shape, although the well-known blue ring of light has been placed on the bottom edge, rather than the upper edge used in previous Echo models.
It's likely the thinking for both Apple and Amazon was similar, in terms of making their smart speakers look more like home furnishings, rather than boxy gadgets – something we saw in the slanted shape of the original Google Home, or the fabric coverings of the past few Amazon Echo devices.
The HomePod's original design, though, was one of the few things that marked it out – as a so-so smart speaker for the price, even if the audio was quite good. This new design appears to be following trends, rather than setting them, which is not an encouraging place for Apple to be.
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Via The Verge (opens in new tab)