Apple’s original smart speaker, the HomePod, first went on sale in February 2018, followed by the HomePod mini in November 2020. The original HomePod was then discontinued in March 2021, only for Apple to reintroduced the larger speaker in January 2023, indicating that it wasn’t done with the smart speaker market yet. And now, rumors are heating up about another update to the HomePod coming: a HomePod with a screen.
The rumor that Apple intends to launch a new HomePod equipped with a screen and combining features from other Apple devices isn’t a new one. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote about Apple’s plans for a HomePod with a screen back in 2021 when he suggested that Apple was developing “new speakers with screens and cameras”. He also suggested that a product that combines the Apple TV and HomePod could be on the way.
Read on to find out what’s in store for the HomePod and how Apple is improving its speaker, with rumors indicating that the next model may be larger, feature a screen, and offer the ability to host conference calls.
HomePod with screen: Release date
When Gurman first spoke of Apple’s plans for a HomePod with a screen in March 2021 he claimed that the launch was not imminent. He even warned that the new product might never hit the market. However, over the months and years since that first report, the evidence has been mounting that there is an Apple HomePod with a display in the pipeline.
Gurman isn’t alone in his expectation that a new HomePod with a screen is coming. In March 2023 analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote about Apple’s smart-home plans. He indicated that Apple “will unveil a redesigned HomePod featuring a 7-inch panel in 1H24,” and that this device “could enable tighter integration with Apple’s other hardware products.” Kuo gives the expected release date for the HomePod with a screen as the first half of 2024.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted in May 2022 that Apple was working on a new HomePod for 2022 or early in 2023. However, the HomePod he predicted then was the update to the HomePod that arrived in January 2023. See: HomePod vs HomePod mini to see how the two models compare. Kuo made some interesting insights into Apple’s plans for this category though: “Smart speakers are undoubtedly one of the essential elements of the home ecosystem.”
HomePod with screen: Design
According to Ming-Chi Kuo in March 2023, Apple “will unveil a redesigned HomePod featuring a 7-inch panel” in 2024. That’s not much smaller than the iPad mini, which has an 8.3-inch display. (Incidentally, an update to the iPad mini is expected in 2023).
This tallies with what Gurman originally suggested in April 2021. He described a high-end speaker with a touch screen that would combine an iPad with a HomePod speaker and a camera mounted on a robotic arm that could follow the user around the room during a video chat. The screen would also offer multi-touch functionality.
To get an idea of how this could look we need only look at the Amazon Echo Show 10, which combines a display that moves automatically with Amazon’s speaker. The Echo Show 10 costs $249.99 / £259.99.
Here’s how they imagine the HomePod Show—a speaker with a camera and a touchscreen—could look.
HomePod with screen: Specs and features
We don’t know much about what the HomePod with a display will look like, but here’s what we expect in terms of specs and features for the the new device:
The HomePod that launched in January 2023 featured the same S7 chip as the Apple Watch Series 7. We expect that a HomePod with a screen will use a more powerful processor, perhaps the same A15 chip as the iPad mini.
The new HomePod could feature a camera, as is rumored in the Bloomberg piece from 2021. With a camera incorporated into the HomePod, it would be possible to participate in a video conference using FaceTime without an iPhone or iPad.
A camera could also be used to recognize gestures. Some years ago a patent was filed that related to a future HomePod that could interpret 3D hand gestures. That patent describes a HomePod that can “interpret three-dimensional hand gestures as a means of controlling the device so as to execute an action or function.”
We’re hoping that Apple will give us something that will compete with the Echo Show, so we can view YouTube videos and use apps on the new hybrid device. Perhaps we won’t get the display we are hoping for, but a more interactive display than the one we have currently would be great. We’d like to see more than just volume controls and a Siri animation.
Why the HomePod needs a screen
Many HomePod users feel that the absence of a screen—and an over-reliance on Siri—has been one of the biggest failings of the HomePod. A built-in display would help users interact with the device as well as open it up as a platform for watching other content, such as YouTube videos and news reports.
If Apple does launch a HomePod with a screen it will help the HomePod compete with devices from Google and Amazon which have combined a speaker with a screen for some time, such as the Amazon Echo Show. You can buy the Echo Show 10 on Amazon U.S. for $249.99 or Amazon U.K. for £259.99 and the Echo Show 15 on Amazon U.S. for $239.99 or Amazon U.K. for £239.99.)
Will Apple combine HomePod and Apple TV?
A Bloomberg report from Gurman back in April 2021 discussed Apple’s plans for two future Apple products which do seem to indicate that Apple was at least considering making a HomePod with a screen. These rumored products included:
A product that fuses the HomePod and Apple TV with a camera that could be used for video conferencing via the TV screen.
A product that combines a smart speaker with a touch screen – it could combine an iPad with a HomePod and mount a camera on a robotic arm that could actually follow the user around the room during a video chat.
Combining the HomePod and Apple TV does look like something that is being investigated by Apple. The Bloomberg report above mentions it, but that wasn’t the first indication that something like this was planned.
In April 2020 it emerged that Apple had switched the software on the HomePod from iOS to tvOS. Such a move could make it even easier to merge those products in the future.
Swiss website Handy Abovergleich did come up with an illustration of how this might look (above). They call this one the HomePod TV–the bar under the TV becomes not only the hub for TV, internet, and smart devices but also a sound system with support for standards such as Dolby Atmos and Apple Lossless.