The HomePod mini, the iPhone 11 models, and the iPhone 12 models all have Apple’s U1 Ultra Wideband chip, which allows the devices to more precisely locate and keep track of one another thanks to much improved indoor positioning and location capabilities.
When introducing the HomePod mini with U1 chip back in October, Apple explained that it would be used for more advanced Handoff features, with that technology now available. The HomePod and HomePod mini have always been capable of transferring songs from the iPhone to the HomePod and vice versa, but now the HomePod mini does it just a bit better.
If you’re listening to a song on your iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 and bring the phone near the HomePod mini, there are now visual, audio, and haptic effects when the song transfers. As the iPhone gets closer to the HomePod mini’s location, it begins a soft haptic touch rhythm that gets faster and faster as the iPhone continues to approach the HomePod mini. Eventually, the song transfer interface options up, and the song transitions from the iPhone to the mini.
Transferring a song is quicker and more reliable with these visual and haptic-based transfer cues, and there are some other useful changes enabled by the U1 chip too. When an iPhone is held near a HomePod mini, you’ll see personalized listening suggestions and song recommendations.
More notably, when you hold an iPhone next to the HomePod mini the iPhone will display playback controls that you can access without unlocking your phone, giving you a quicker way to manually control content playing on the HomePod mini.
This new U1 chip functionality is limited to the HomePod mini because the standard HomePod does not have a U1 chip inside it. Using this feature also requires an iPhone with a U1 chip, and that’s limited to iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models.