Report: Apple is Working on Smart Home Display and Apple TV/HomePod Combo

The Amazon Echo Show 15 (image credit: Amazon.com)

Apple is reportedly working on new smart home products to compete with popular offerings from Amazon and Google. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the company is working on a new iPad-like smart home display and an evolution of its Apple TV box that would include a smart speaker and a FaceTime camera for video calls.

Gurman believes that Apple’s new smart home display could look like a low-end iPad that could be mounted on walls or a stand, similar to Amazon’s Echo Show 15. “Apple has also discussed the idea of building larger smart-home displays, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private,” Gurman reported.

Apple’s iPads already support smart home features thanks to Apple’s Home app, though an iPad is still not equivalent to standalone smart home displays such as Amazon’s Echo Show products, Google’s Nest Hub line, or Meta’s now discontinued Portal devices. These devices are always plugged in, they can be always listening for voice commands, and some of them also include a front camera for voice calls.

The Bloomberg report, however, suggests that Apple’s first smart home display will still be an iPad-like tablet that can be moved around the house. The report also drew a comparison with Google’s upcoming Pixel tablet, which will ship with an optional charging speaker dock. “Apple also has discussed creating a home stand for its current iPads,” Gurman wrote.

It’s worth reminding that Apple’s latest entry-level iPad got a significant price bump last fall, as it now starts at $449. The smaller Apple Mini is even more expensive at $499, so Apple’s first smart home display would need to be much cheaper than that to compete with rival products from Google and Amazon. According to Gurman, Apple’s first smart displays have also been delayed internally and they may not launch until next year at the earliest.

If Apple is still barely competing in the smart home market, there are already some signs of change. The 2nd-gen HomePod the company announced yesterday is probably still too expensive at $299, but the $99 HomePod Mini is pretty good value. It will be even better for smart home enthusiasts once Apple enables its built-in thermostat and humidity sensors via a software update.

Apple also launched a slightly cheaper Apple TV 4K model last fall, and Gurman reports that it will be followed by a newer model with a faster SoC in the first half of 2024. However, Gurman also believes that Apple is continuing to work on a more versatile TV box that would combine a smart speaker and a FaceTime camera, similar to Meta’s discontinued Portal TV device. “The device was initially targeted for release this year, but the timing has slipped,” Gurman said.

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