Roundup: Here’s everything Apple has been working on for its lineup of smart home products
Apple entered the smart home accessories segment back in 2014 with iOS 8, which introduced the HomeKit API to integrate such products with Siri. But it wasn’t until 2017 that Apple announced HomePod, its first smart speaker and overall first smart home device.
The company now has two different models of HomePod, but according to rumors, Apple wants to further expand this lineup in the near future. Here’s everything we know about what Apple has been working on for its smart home product lineup.
The current HomePod lineup
Even though Apple sells HomeKit-compatible accessories in its stores, HomePod is currently the only series of smart home products made by the company. It started with the original HomePod in 2017, which came as a smart speaker option for users who wanted deeper integration with Apple’s ecosystem. After all, HomePod is entirely based on Siri, AirPlay, and HomeKit.
As most of you know, the original HomePod was later discontinued, as Apple was unhappy with the sales numbers. It was replaced by the HomePod mini, which has the same features but in a smaller and cheaper form factor, which made the product more attractive to customers.
Earlier this year, Apple announced the second-generation HomePod, which looks exactly the same as the original model but with some minor enhancements. Customers now have two options for Apple’s smart speakers. Still, HomePod and HomePod mini are not much different except for sound quality.
Apple wants to increase its share of smart home products to compete with Amazon and Google. Back in 2020, Apple had only 5% of the smart speaker market share. Since the launch of the HomePod mini, that number has increased to 12%. The company is still far from Amazon’s nearly 30% market share with Echo devices, but the numbers show that having more product options available results in attracting more customers.
But Apple’s plans include having other categories of products for the home that go beyond just smart speakers.
iPad docking accessory
One of these options would be a docking accessory with a built-in speaker for the iPad. Bloomberg reported last year that Apple has been exploring the idea of combining the iPad with an external speaker, allowing users to dock their iPad to the accessory to get a better home hub experience.
The device would work similarly to Google’s Charging Speaker Dock for the Pixel Tablet. Since this product would be an accessory for the iPad and not a standalone device, Apple could sell it at a lower price to make it attractive. At the same time, it could end up boosting both iPad and HomeKit accessory sales.
A new dock for the iPad was first rumored to be announced later this year, but it’s unclear whether Apple will actually release it.
HomePod with built-in display
Another rumor that has been gaining more traction recently is that Apple has been working on a new HomePod model. Unlike the current HomePod and HomePod mini, this new version would have a fully-functional built-in display. The development of this product has already been corroborated by multiple sources, including Bloomberg.
Most recently, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the device will have a 7-inch panel. The idea would be similar to the Amazon Echo Show, which is basically a tablet attached to a speaker with a custom interface for quick interactions.
A product like this could make HomePod more attractive to people who don’t like Siri, as users could interact with it directly from the display. It would also work great as a HomeKit accessory hub. Both Kuo and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that this new HomePod should be announced sometime in 2024.
In a related report, Apple is also rumored to be working on a similar product, but with an even larger screen and a built-in camera for FaceTime. But this version seems to be even more experimental and far from an actual release.
Apple TV + HomePod combined
Okay, HomePod is not exactly the only product for the home that Apple currently has. Apple TV has been on the market since 2007, and now the device not only functions as a set-top box but also as a HomeKit hub. However, unlike the HomePod, Apple TV is not always on and ready for quick interactions.
To change this, Apple is said to be working on a new device that combines the features of Apple TV and HomePod. It would work similarly to the Roku Streambar, which is basically a soundbar that also has apps available when connected to a TV.
This would allow users to interact with the Apple TV through Siri at any time, just like with the HomePod. At the same time, the product itself would function as a speaker, so users wouldn’t need to pair HomePods to it. Of course, a product like this isn’t likely to be cheap, since buying an Apple TV and a pair of HomePod mini speakers today can cost you over $300.
There are no details about when Apple plans to introduce such a product.
With HomeKit and now the Matter standard (which is also supported by Apple), the company will only benefit from having more products for the home. While fighting with Amazon and Google will certainly not be an easy task, expanding the HomePod family should help Apple gain more market share in this segment.
Which new smart home product do you want to see from Apple? Let us know in the comments section below.
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