With the full-size version of Apple's HomePod now discontinued, we wouldn't blame you for wondering how much of a future the (still very new) HomePod mini has. But fresh news reveals that Apple isn't done with HomePod yet – a version with a screen and camera is reportedly in the works, and it looks like the mini might be able to do more than we ever knew.
First up, Bloomberg reports that the HomePod mini has a sensor for temperature and humidity that's not currently active, but that Apple could turn on to boost the devices smart home credentials. The piece says that "The company has internally discussed using the sensor to determine a room's temperature and humidity so internet-connected thermostats can adjust different parts of a home based on current conditions, according to people familiar with the situation."
Many of the best smart thermostats have the option of buying a separate temperature-sensor module, so that you can measure the effectiveness of your heating where you feel it, rather than wherever the thermostat is placed. Having a temperature sensor just built into other tech you already own would make that even easier… but only for Apple HomeKit thermostats, of course (and many of the biggest names don't include HomeKit support).
Even without smart heating to trigger, the sensors could still be useful – they can let you know of any problems when away from home, or you can keep an eye on humidity if you're having damp problems.
This change won't suddenly elevate the HomePod mini to the top of our list of the best smart speakers, but it could definitely make it even better value for those in the Apple ecosystem.
What about the HomePod with screen?
The same Bloomberg report also says that Apple is working on "new speakers with screens and cameras" – something more like the Amazon Echo Show, and kind of like the Google Nest Hub 2 (though that doesn't have any cameras).
This is backed up by someone digging into the latest software for Apple TV and HomePod, and discovering code relating to image handling and FaceTime (spotted by MacRumors).
So whether Apple will actually decide to release a HomePod with a screen remains unclear (certainly, one year ago would have a been a better time to release one), but perhaps the full-size HomePod and its incredible speaker array will live on in a new form.