Apple has reintroduced the HomePod to the range – at least a second-generation version. Aside from even better sound the focus of this was its position as a home hub; controlling a range of smart home devices from fans to blinds, and also serving as your cinema surround sound system.
All this is helped with the inclusion of Matter – a standard for smart home connectivity that looks to make linking devices even easier. So is this a one-off Matter product for Apple? I highly doubt it.
What's more likely is that Apple will provide new, more connected versions of its existing products as well as a few new ones to tie your whole Apple Home Hub system together. These are a few products that I'm expecting/hoping are on their way in the coming months or years.
1. HomePod with screen
The best smart speakers we've tested all feature screens, so I would love to see a version of the HomePod with an iPad-style display on it. This would be where the HomePod could really take its place in the home and by the sounds of it, an Apple rival to the Echo Show 15 and Google Nest Hub is not impossible.
2. Next-gen Apple TV
I know that the Apple TV 4K has only just had a reboot but I think it's due a bigger shake-up. The Apple TV can also take on many of the Home hub functions and display them on your TV. The biggest thing the Apple TV is missing in my view is the ability to FaceTime. With the addition of a dedicated FaceTime app and the inclusion of the continuity camera feature from MacOS Ventura, you could use your iPhone as a webcam and FaceTime from your TV. I think this new Belkin accessory is another hint it may happen.
3. Apple soundbar
The Apple HomePod has some great audio technology in it, and either one or two units can be paired with your Apple TV to deliver great cinema sound. However, the design isn't perfect for putting in front of your TV. What you need is a HomePod soundbar.
Imagine a long thin version of the HomePod that can deliver that Spatial Audio sound but sit neatly under your screen. It doesn't just make sense for Apple to produce one of these, it's almost a no-brainer. Plus, you could then link up a couple of HomePods or HomePod minis for the full surround sound.
4. Apple Airport WiFi 6E
Apple's Airport range were some of the best routers available for a time. Not only were they reliable but they were incredibly easy to connect – something that couldn't be said for most WiFi networks. Though apple killed off the whole Airport range sometime ago, now could be the perfect time to bring it back. Of course, a new version would have to offer Mesh connectivity and WiFi 6E, but it would be the perfect way to complete the smart home setup.
5. Cameras and security
Apple certainly has the technology to make decent web and security cameras but it's something that until now they have shied away from. A dedicated webcam to place on your monitor would be a big hit for MacBook users, but the continuity camera offered a different approach of just using your iPhone.
Though unlikely to follow the trend and produce separate wireless security cameras like Ring or Arlo, it could produce an all-purpose wireless camera that could be used for Facetime calls with your Mac or Apple TV, and then placed on the side to work as a security camera. Again, this makes sense when the HomePod can alert you to an alarm and then connect to a camera to see what's happening. It would make more sense if it was connected to an Apple camera.
I hope at least some of these make it into Apple's lineup – I'm sure a few will have been tested in the past. While there's nothing to say they will, if Apple is serious about the smart home, they will definitely boost the prospect.