Tonight's much-anticipated Apple event will focus on the iPhone 12, but there may also be talk of a smaller version of the HomePod.

The latest development in this long-running saga comes from tech leaker Jon Prosser, who claims the so-called HomePod mini will be equipped with a U1 chip. Among other things this component is used to track distance from other U1-equipped devices, such as the Apple Watch Series 6.

The technology can be used with the Find My app to get a message if someone steals your property.

The U1 only got a brief mention at last year's iPhone keynote, and so far the ultra-wide band chip has only been built into the iPhone 11 Pro and Apple Watch Series 6. But it has many uses: AirDrop, for example, benefits from it, as the sending device knows more precisely the direction of the recipient.

According to Prosser, the U1 will turn the upcoming HomePod mini into a control centre for all HomeKit devices; a system equipped with several U1 devices will be able to dynamically regulate volume in the loudspeakers, brightness of lights and door locks.

According to Prosser, the next model of Apple TV will also be equipped with the U1 chip, but that upgrade is expected to be delayed until the spring.

Tonight's announcements start at 6pm UK time. Here's how to watch the iPhone 12 launch event live.

This article is based on original reporting by Macworld Sweden and Macwelt. Translation by David Price.