With HomePod OS 16.3, Apple is adding a cool new feature to the HomePod mini: the small Siri speaker can now also determine temperature and humidity and use it for Apple’s HomeKit smart home system. For this purpose, an existing room climate sensor in the device is activated with the firmware update, which was previously inaccessible to users. As it turns out, however, the firmware itself is not enough. Because all devices with the Home app must also be updated in order to be able to use the room climate recording.
Firmware on it – and then?
Apple only officially admitted that this sensor exists with the announcement of the HomePod 2, which will be available in stores at the beginning of February. The function is very simple: If the HomePod mini has the current firmware version, a new tile called “Climate” appears at the top of the Home app, even if you haven’t had any accessories that fit into this category before. Clicking on it then displays the temperature and humidity that the speaker is currently measuring. If other sensors are present, for example for the temperature in a thermostat, a temperature range for a room is shown. Then you have to click again to see the data of all existing sensors. The same applies to the humidity.
However, the data from HomePod mini and soon HomePod 2 is only shown in the Home app on iPhone, iPad or Mac if these devices also have the latest operating system. This means that users must update to at least iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3 or macOS 13.2. Even in macOS 13.1, the entry for the HomePod’s climate data is missing, and Monterey also completely ignores the sensor. This is quite astonishing because there have long been temperature and humidity sensors from other manufacturers that can also be integrated into older versions of the Home app. It remains unclear why Apple is not going this route – it could be that the group is trying to persuade users to update faster.
Interesting possibilities with the readings
In fact, the room climate sensor, especially in the HomePod mini, is an unexpected gift. Because the measured values can not only be viewed, but also integrated into automations. For example, you can specify that HomeKit-enabled blinds or curtains are drawn when a room gets too warm.
If the humidity rises, you could have a dehumidifier start automatically at a desired value – and stop again when it has done its job and the value has normalized. Or you can use the temperature value to control the air conditioning and/or thermostat. As mentioned, none of this works if the Home app device has the wrong version.
(updated 01/27/23 11:15 am:) One reader noticed that HomePod mini is able to reveal temperature and humidity, at least via Siri, provided it’s updated to HomePod OS 16.3. Other devices do not have to be up-to-date for this.
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