The HomePod mini may be more than Apple first let it. The smart speaker has a component that the company has not yet revealed, according to Bloomberg. This component is a sensor manufactured by Texas Instruments for measuring temperature and humidity.
iFixit found the 1.5mm by 1.5mm chip hidden away from the other components of the mini, suggesting that it is not there to measure the internal temperature of the device. Apple allegedly discussed allowing the sensor to share the data it collects with other HomeKit-compatible devices, such as fans and thermostats. It’s something that devices like Amazon’s latest Echo smart speakers do, with built-in temperature sensors. You can use Echo 2020 to trigger other devices using Alexa routines. Bloomberg suggests that Apple could program the HomePod mini to do something similar to HomeKit devices. You could also share the data you collect with thermostats, so you shouldn’t buy separate sensors for different rooms to heat and cool your home more efficiently.
It is unclear whether or when Apple will turn on the sensor. However, the company has done so in the past. As Bloomberg points out that the 2008 iPod touch had a Bluetooth chip that Apple activated about a year after its launch. In more recent memory, Apple has updated the HomePod mini to take advantage of its ultra-wideband (UWB) chip for easier audio transfers to and from the iPhone. However, this was a feature that Apple detailed when it announced the device last year.