Back when it announced the HomePod mini last year, Apple said it was working on a feature that would allow you to seamlessly transfer music, calls and podcasts between your iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 and the smart speaker. With the arrival of iOS 14.4 earlier today, you can finally check it out for yourself.
The new feature builds on the handoff functionality that’s already available on the company’s smart speakers. It takes advantage of the U1 ultra-wideband (UWB) chip Apple built into both the HomePod mini and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 lineups. In theory, transferring music, podcasts and calls between devices should work better since the U1 chip is there to help the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 detect when they’re in close proximity to the HomePod mini. At the very least, there are new visual and haptic feedback effects to make everything feel more polished. You’ll also see personalized listening suggestions and playback controls automatically appear on your iPhone when you move near the speaker. In the latter case, there’s no need to first unlock your phone.
Outside of powering the latest version of AirDrop, this is one of the first features we’ve seen Apple use the U1 chip to enhance. The component is expected to power the company’s long-rumored AirTags, which Apple will reportedly announce later this year. You can manually update your HomePod mini to take advantage of the new UWB functionality by launching the Home app and navigating to the Software Update section of the Settings menu.