The original HomePod flopped. But Apple was not discouraged. It rediscovered the product and released the HomePod mini, a less high-tech – and more affordable – version that seems to have been more successful on the market, suggesting that Apple had bigger ambitions for the home.
Now there are rumors that Apple is planning to build a new HomePod. There are even rumors that as many as three new HomePods could be headed our way. Could it be that in the same year that the iPod finally faded away, the HomePod will transform itself from failure into a major Apple product line?
It’s time. Not just for a HomePod comeback, but also for HomePod dominance. Two HomePods? I want more. I want four. It’s time for Apple to rush back to the smart home game and the HomePod can lead the way.
Return of the HomePod
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple is working on a new HomePod for later this year or early 2023. The logical assumption here is that the HomePod mini will once again get a non-mini counterpart, a larger speaker that sounds better, but perhaps more like a scaled-up HomePod mini than an overhaul of the original, expensive HomePod.
It is logical. The HomePod mini, as nice as it is, can’t fill larger rooms with high-quality audio and lags behind the original HomePods in acting as speakers for an Apple TV. There is room in Apple’s speaker line for a more powerful model. Will it please fans of the original HomePods? Probably not, but it just needs to be a little better than the HomePod mini for not much more money. Suddenly, the HomePod is a product line again.
Next stop: Living room
Could it be true? As someone who has argued time and again for Apple to bring the Apple TV and HomePod together, I’m excited to say that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman thinks this product is finally on its way.
Maybe next year, it would be a single device that would act as an Apple TV and Soundbar in one. Linked to your TV, it would fill your room with audio from streaming movies and TV shows and from Apple Music, including Spatial Audio. Step 1: Plug in the HomePod TV. Step 2: Connect it to your TV. Step 3: There is no step 3!
Gurman also suggests that this HomePod may also have a Center-Stage style camera, which also makes sense. Imagine being able to start FaceTime calls with family members from the couch in the living room, with a camera smart enough to zoom in on wherever you sit in the room. (It’s actually a more appropriate use of Center Stage than the Studio Display!)
Plus, there’s nothing in this product that goes beyond the technology Apple provides today. All Apple has to do is integrate it into a single convenient device — and it could be a great way to bring tvOS into many more homes.
The Kitchen HomePod?
Another rumor has it that HomePod is one more similar to the Amazon Echo Show and the Meta Portal: a smart speaker with voice control that also has a display and a camera. Again, this is all technology Apple currently offers – it would just have to be remixed into a new product that would find a home on a table or in the kitchen.
I’m having an Echo Show in my kitchen, and it’s not a bad product, but it makes me long for something better. Imagine a Center Stage style camera, with support for all streaming services through their Apple TV apps. The real challenge would be figuring out the interface for such a device. Could it just be… an iPad stuck to some speakers? An Apple TV that you can control with simple gestures?
Here’s my idea: Just like Amazon does, keep it simple. Offer a remote control and an Apple TV mode for easy navigation, in other words, don’t replicate iPadOS because you don’t want to spend a lot of time touching these types of devices. By the way, the killer app for a device like this isn’t one with a lot of interactivity – it’s one that spreads environmental information. Allow me to fill that screen with iOS-style widgets, and you’re on to something good.
As someone who has two original HomePods to this day, I have nothing against the product despite its failure on the market. And with the iPod now officially buried, it seems like the right time for the HomePod brand to come into its own. That’s a good thing, because it’s been a long time since Apple spent more time focusing on its smart-home product line.