Well, what do we have here: a secret sensor hidden in the depths of the HomePod mini shell? A recently discovered piece could mean that Apple may have a new performance for its smaller ones — and soon to be the only one — the smart speaker has raised its arms.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, a reliable source of rumors and leaks for Apple, first reported the existence of an itty, bitty chip, which is reportedly a heat and humidity sensor built in Texas.
Gurman asked Apple detectives who were tearing down the iFixit to dig in, and found it crowded inside the base of the HomePod mini, built next to a captive power cord.
While temperature sensors are common on PCs, laptops, and other devices to detect high temperatures, the sensor in the HomePod mini is too far away from the speaker interior to achieve that purpose, Gurman notes. Instead, the sensor area suggests that it is designed to measure external measurements rather than internal temperatures.
Hidden temperature and humidity sensor was reportedly found sitting on the base of the HomePod mini, next to the power cord.
Apple did not mention the heat sensor when it unlocked the last fall of the HomePod mini, but it is not uncommon for those products to be shipped with non-functional items. Gurman uses the 2008 iPod touch Bluetooth model that was powered by the following year with software updates, but I'm also thinking of the sleepy (and now active) IR sensor in 2019's Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box, as well as microphones in Denon home speakers to be used soon by Alexa.
So, what does Apple think of the HomePod mini’s temperature and humidity sensor? According to Gurman, Apple has used the concept of using a sensor to send heat data to HomeKit-enabled thermostats. Another possibility is that the sensor may act as a “trigger” for other smart devices, such as connected plugs or fans.
As it happens, another recently announced and competing device in the smart speaker / display category will be sent with a temperature sensor: the upcoming Google Nest Hub. The Nest Hub temperature sensor works in conjunction with display display sleep features, a sensor designed to warn you if your room temperature is too high or too low at night. Of course, the sensor may end up having additional uses, but Google has not announced anything at this point.
In any case, it seems that Apple wants to increase the capacity of the HomePod mini smart, including a Thread radio that allows a smaller HomePod to connect other Thread-enabled devices (such as Nanoleaf's smart Essentials smart lamps and other recently announced Eve devices) online.