By this time next year, you may have to make a decision about whether or not to buy a new type of HomePod that comes with a screen. According to notable Apple analyst Ming-Chu Kuo, the tech giant could unveil the next-generation HomePod with a 7-inch panel in the first half of 2024. The display, which will be made by Chinese vendor Tianma, “could enable a closer integration. with other Apple hardware products.” That means a “significant shift in the company’s smart home strategy,” he said.
Kuo’s prediction echoes previous reports of Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman that the company is developing a kitchen accessory that combines an iPad with a speaker. Just this January, Gurman reiterated that Apple is working on a list of smart home devices in a bid to compete with offerings from Amazon and Google. One of the products he is developing is reportedly a low-end iPad that can control various IoT devices, such as thermostats and lights, and can be used for video chats. It remains to be seen if that is also the screen that would come integrated with the HomePod.
By launching a speaker with a smart display, Apple will finally be able to offer a direct competitor to Google’s Nest Hub and Amazon’s Echo Show models. Apple is falling behind its peers when it comes to smart home devices: its smart speaker, for example, came years after the Echo. Bloomberg he said in 2017 that it’s because Apple executives had a hard time figuring out where it would fit into their ecosystem of products.
Since Apple is clearly still in the midst of catching up with its competitors in the space, users can choose between the HomePod mini and the newer second-generation HomePod that launched in January for now. The new model has a touchpad on top, but it has limited capabilities including adjusting the volume, skipping tracks, and summoning Siri.