There’s a reason Apple hasn’t released a new HomePod speaker yet, and that’s because there’s some special coming – a HomePod with a touchscreen display. While other smart speakers from Amazon and Google already offer a screened version, we are yet to see Apple make the move.
According to Bloomberg (opens in new tab), development is well underway on this new HomePod (it first reported it back in April), so we could see a release as early as this fall. It already has all the parts it needs to make it happen. The TVOS has the functionality, the iPad has the touchscreen, FaceTime has the call connectivity – not to mention the new Center Stage tracking on the new iPad Pro, and HomePod has the audio. With Apple’s recent Hi-res lossless music announcements, I would expect that any new speaker would also support this new format.
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Smart speakers with displays have become increasingly popular, allowing users to not only watch video clips and monitor doorbell cameras but also to make video calls. FaceTime is a great feature on the iPhone, iPad and Mac but having it in a home device would only add to its popularity. Not to mention the album artwork and music videos on Apple Music.
Even Facebook has got in on the market, with its Portal products that either have their own screens or attach to your TV. If Apple offered a similar setup, I’m sure it would beat Portal hands down. I mean, who really wants to use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp for video calls?
Personally, I’d love to see an Apple camera unit that attaches to an Apple TV unit to provide FaceTime on your TV. This would make calls home with the parents much more enjoyable than squeezing the family round an iPad or laptop screen.
But a HomePod with its own screen would be an excellent addition. Imagine an iPad mini perched on a dome-like speaker, or a miniature iMac design with speakers built into the screen. It would be beautiful. Plus, with Zoom adding extra functionality for iPad Pro devices, you wouldn’t be limited to just FaceTime. You could even use it for work Zoom and Teams calls. Unfortunately, a separate web camera for the Apple TV is less likely, but I’m still crossing my fingers.