If like me you think Apple has taken its eye off the smart home ball in recent years, here's some good news: it has not one, not two, but four smart home devices in its labs right now.
That's according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in his latest Power On (opens in new tab) newsletter, in which he spills the beans on Apple's plan for your kitchen and more.
According to Gurman, those four devices are:
1. The new, louder HomePod resembling the discontinued original that we heard about last month
2. A new version of the HomePod mini
3. A kitchen device that combines an iPad and a HomePod
4. A device that combines Apple TV, a camera and a HomePod in one living room device.
Some of these products could ship in late 2023 or early 2024, although they might not ship at all. Right now there is no official confirmation these products are being worked on or exist at all, we just have Gurman's word for it.
The thing is, though, Gurman is usually right in his predictions, adding weight to this Apple smart home product assault.
What's Apple cooking for your kitchen?
I love the original HomePods so I'm excited that they're coming back. But it's the last two devices that intrigue me the most. Could the living room device be a soundbar? So far Apple hasn't tried to enter the market for the best soundbars, but the Apple TV can already use HomePods and HomePods mini as Apple TV speakers. Adding a smart soundbar could be very interesting, and while I doubt it'd be cheap I'm sure it'd sound great.
As for the kitchen, the iPad/speaker combo sounds like a smart display to me. That's an odd one, because such displays have hardly set the smart home world on fire: Facebook's Portal has been a disaster and I got bored with my Echo Show a few days into it. And the speakers in my iPad Air are good enough for my small kitchen anyway; why shell out for a smart display you'll barely use when you just need to stick your iPad on a recipe holder?
That's not to say whatever Apple is up to won't be good; maybe I'm just too familiar with how things are done now and Apple has got some ground-breaking ideas of where to go next. But if I were a betting person, I'd say the new HomePods are definitely going to happen while the smart display seems a lot less likely.