If you’ve been holding off on buying one of Apple’s newest HomePod mini smart speakers, you may have made a wise decision, as it seems that many early adopters are encountering some problems with their new speakers that are rendering them almost completely useless.
While Apple’s new $99 HomePod mini promises to finally offer a Siri-capable smart speaker at a much more accessible price, it’s apparently not all sunshine and roses, with rapidly growing threads on Apple’s Discussion Forums and Reddit reporting that the new speakers aren’t reliably connecting to Wi-Fi.
Since the whole point of a smart speaker like the HomePod mini is to be able to process requests made to Siri and stream music from online services like Apple Music, not being able to get online renders the diminutive speakers virtually useless.
And to add insult to injury, there’s still no Bluetooth support in the HomePod at all, so even if you want to stream music from your iPhone you’ll be out of luck without a Wi-Fi connection.
In some cases, the HomePod mini finished its set up process without any problems, yet later loses its online connection entirely, with requests to Siri all resulting in the same response: “I am having trouble connecting to the internet.”
The issues are sporadic and hard to track down, but it’s clearly not a range issue, as some users report their HomePod mini being less than two feet away from their wireless routers, while others note that they can control the HomePod mini directly from their iPhone via the Home app, and even get it to stream music from Apple Music by starting things up from the iPhone Music app, but can’t actually ask Siri to do anything.
Others are finding their HomePod mini speakers going completely dark, showing at unavailable in the iPhone Home app, despite the router showing them as having an active Wi-Fi connection.
What Can I Do About It?
The worst part of this is that there doesn’t seem to be a reliable workaround to the problem as of yet; rebooting the HomePod will sometimes restore functionality for a while, but eventually, the HomePod appears to lose its connection after a couple of hours. Even restoring the HomePod to its factory settings and configuring it again from scratch doesn’t appear to permanently address the problem.
It also doesn’t appear to affect every HomePod mini unit, and several users who purchased multiple speakers, including 9to5Mac’s Chance Miller, have noted that in some cases only one or two are experiencing the problems, despite being connected to the same router and sometimes even being located beside each other in the same room.
Still, there’s not enough information yet to determine if this problem is only affecting certain Wi-Fi routers or certain configurations. Some users have chimed in saying that they’re experiencing no problems with specific router configurations, but these reports are anecdotal right now at best.
Many of these reports are also coming from users with full-sized HomePod speakers already on their networks, with which they’ve never experienced these problems, pointing to the issue being specific to the HomePod mini.
Unfortunately, if you’re experiencing problems with your HomePod mini you may have no recourse except to wait until Apple figures out a fix; although all units are still covered under Apple’s warranty, the problem seems to be widespread enough that there’s no guarantee that it’s a hardware problem rather than a software problem, and even if it is specific to certain HomePod units, you’d be rolling the dice right now on getting a properly working replacement.
Still, if you’re finding yourself frustrated with your new HomePod mini, it may be worth contacting Apple Support just to help light more of a fire under them, since like any company they’re more likely to prioritize fixing problems that are affecting a larger number of users.
Alternatively, if you purchased your HomePod mini directly from Apple, you may still be able to return it for a full refund depending on when you purchased it — Apple normally offers a 14-day no-questions-asked return policy, however right now we’re in the holiday return policy, meaning any products received after November 10th (which every HomePod mini would have been), can be returned until January 8, 2021, so you have some extra time to wait and see if Apple manages to fix the problem.