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New HomePod mini Handoff experience being tested in latest beta software

Apple is currently testing a HomePod software update that enables new proximity based interactions with iPhone models equipped with the company's U1 Ultra Wideband chip.

While Apple does not typically issue HomePod beta software to developers, a tester who has access to the upcoming HomePod 14.4 update described how the new feature will work in a Reddit post on Wednesday.

According to the brief rundown, bringing an iPhone within about one foot of HomePod mini invokes a haptic tap and an on-screen banner that displays the song currently playing on the smart speaker. Bringing the devices closer together increases haptic intensity and tempo, while moving them apart decreases feedback prominence.

When performing a song Handoff from HomePod mini to iPhone, the banner expands into a near full-screen "platter," or UI panel, that includes album artwork, playback controls and more. The new capability appears to fulfill Apple's promise of a "magical" Handoff experience that provides audio, visual and haptic feedback cues to create the illusion that the two devices are physically connected. Apple said the feature would arrive in a future HomePod software update.

The entire process is powered by U1 chips integrated into iPhone and HomePod.

Introduced with iPhone 11 last year, the specialized Ultra Wideband silicon uses radio pulses to detect, range and interact with other U1 devices that are in close proximity. Apple first implemented the spatial awareness technology in iPhone's directional AirDrop function, and the U1 is rumored to be the backbone of yet to surface FindMy features and a so-called AirTags tracking accessory.

MacRumors spotted the Reddit post earlier today.

Today's HomePod 14.4 beta software was distributed alongside the first iOS 14.4 beta, suggesting that the two updates will be released at the same time. Apple previously said the advanced haptic experience would launch before year's end.