HomePods with screens are coming, according to Apple’s own code

A new Apple beta appears to confirm that not one but two screen-enabled HomePod devices are in development – and one is nearing production

Apple HomePod mini
(Image credit: Apple)

Rumours of an Apple HomePod with a built-in display have been circulating since 2021, and what appeared to be prototypes leaked in late 2023. And it looks like the mythical smart home devices are getting much closer to launch. According to Apple's own code, a new tvOS device is imminent and it appears to have a screen.

The code is in the latest tvOS beta. tvOS is the operating system of the Apple TV 4K, but it's also the operating system of the HomePod and HomePod mini – albeit without the visual user interface. And in the latest developer beta of the operating system there are references to a new tvOS device dubbed Z314, which according to 9to5Mac exists as both internal development and production models. The latter suggests that the device is close to launch.

Why Apple's code appears to reveal the next gen HomePod

The new device appears to have the same A15 processor as the iPad mini 6, which is a significant change: the current second-gen HomePod is based around an Apple Watch S7 processor and the mini has an S5. The A15 is a much more powerful processor, which probably wouldn't be necessary if the new device wasn't doing more than just audio. 

As 9to5Mac reports, there are also new features in the tvOS beta that suggest a display in the new device – in particular, the presence of a system tool called hangtracerd, which is used to deal with user interface issues in iOS apps.

Previous leaks indicated that Apple had been testing tvOS on the iPad mini, which seems to corroborate reports that Apple's future HomePod plans included one with a large display – and that means the device isn't the same one as the apparent prototype HomePod, whose display was a smaller circle on top of the device. That suggests there are going to be two flavours of screen-enabled HomePods: one that looks much like the current generation, and one more flexible and capable one that may look closer to Amazon's Echo Show.

For now there's no indication as to when the new HomePod or HomePods will launch, but a previous prediction by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested a launch of the 7-inch model in the first half of 2024. It's expected to be the first product based around Apple's revamped smart home strategy, which is an area where Apple has fallen behind the likes of Amazon.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).