A new HomePod was also unveiled on Tuesday. Like the previous model, the original HomePod from 2018, the new smart speaker is covered with a fine mesh and equipped with a colorful touch display. Unlike the old pod, this new one is smaller, cheaper, and spherical in shape. Fun! The HomePod Mini can play streaming songs from Apple Music and control all the smart home actions we’ve come to expect from a voice activated speaker. Of course, the user experience is tightly integrated with the iPhone and Apple Watch. The first HomePod sounded great, and given Apple’s recent track record with great sounding audio hardware, we can expect this smaller one to sound good too.
It also comes with an attractive price point of just $ 99. With the proliferation of cheap and affordable smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and even Cupertino̵
Spherical speakers have a moment. Just last month Amazon unveiled a round Echo speaker, and now that Apple has embraced the sphere, we can expect dozens of others to join in too. Google’s newest speaker, Nest Audio, is more of a rectangular spot than a sphere. Let’s not forget, however, that Google threw the first stone in the wars for spherical smart home audio streaming devices.
One of the coolest announcements Apple made today is also one that has flown under the radar. It wasn’t part of the streamed presentation, but Apple got a new $ 50 pair of headphones called the Beats Flex. These banded Bluetooth earbuds offer 12 hours of battery life, USB-C charging and even what is known as audio sharing technology that allows you to sync them with a friend’s iPhone, iPad or other Apple-made headphones for use listen to music together.
iOS users will take advantage of Apple’s W1 chip which allows them to pair with a single touch of a button. However, we also expect these to work great on Android with a more normal Bluetooth pairing cycle. Something we haven’t heard of? Water resistance that could make our decision to buy these headphones for those who take their buds with them when they workout.
That $ 50 price tag is also important. Apple will no longer ship headphones in the box with the iPhone, so users need a cheap headphone option, and preferably a wireless one.