Apple could be preparing to launch a redesigned HomePod in the first half of 2024 equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen, according to a new prediction from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
According to Kuo the device “could enable tighter integration with Apple’s other hardware products” which would mark “a significant shift in the company’s smart home strategy.” It sounds a lot like it could be designed to act as a smart home controller, similar to what Google offers with its Nest Hub smart displays, or Amazon with its Echo Shows. Apple’s existing HomePods have small circular displays on top, but their functionality is limited and they’re effectively just a fancy status indicator.
“A significant shift in the company’s smart home strategy”
Apple has been rumored to be working on such a device before. Back in April 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple was “mulling” producing a “high-end speaker with a touch screen” that would “combine an iPad with a HomePod speaker and also include a camera for video chat.” It would supposedly be designed to compete with devices from Amazon and Google. News of this potential device came alongside a second that would combine elements of an Apple TV set-top box and HomePod speaker, though Bloomberg cautioned that development of both devices were in their early stages.
Then, in January this year, Bloomberg reported that the company was working on an iPad-style device designed to be used as a smart home controller and FaceTime calling device with magnetic fasteners to allow it to be mounted on a wall, for example. However, Bloomberg didn’t mention whether this device would use Apple’s HomePod branding.
Reports and predictions like these might very well indicate plans that are in early stages of development and subject to change. But there’s clearly demand for such a hub if Amazon and Google’s competing smart display lineups are anything to go by. Not to mention the amount of people who already retrofit iPads to serve as permanent smart home controllers.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.