Apple’s original HomePod, the big smart speaker that predated the HomePod mini, lasted less than three years on the market. It never became a hit for the Cupertino tech giant. But a new design concept from a Swiss outfit imagines it coming back in two new forms.
Swiss website Handy Abovergleich collaborated with designer Eric Huismann to dream up a series of conceptual images of two future HomePods filling different roles.
And while these particular designs may or may not portend Apple’s future moves, the ideas seem to fit into recent prognostication that Apple will try to bolster its “weak living room strategy” with a combination HomePod, Apple TV and FaceTime camera product by sometime in 2023.
Design concept: two HomePod ideas
First, the concept by Handy Abovergleich and Eric Huismann imagines a new product called HomePod TV. It combines the HomePod and Apple TV, with the HomePod morphing into a sound bar form.
Then the concept dreams up the HomePod Show, which is the large smart speaker with a vivid Retina touchscreen display. It includes the Siri digital assistant onboard and offers control over the smart home system HomeKit.
The Apple TV problem
The HomePod TV idea certainly seems to have some legs, given the mention above about possible plans in Cupertino to go in that direction in 2023.
A reason behind the need to do so is that Apple TV has struggled to compete. Streaming offerings from companies like Amazon, Google and Roku are less expensive. That’s partly because Apple TV includes high-end hardware for tvOS games.
Not to mention, most third-party hardware, including a raft of smart TVs, supports the Apple TV+ app for programming. And that begs the question more and more: “what’s the point of Apple TV?”
Focusing on great audio
Both the HomePod TV and the HomePod Show ideas seem to suggest Apple can add relevance and value by focusing on its ability to make excellent audio devices. Both would-be products would be all about new audio bells and whistles like Dolby Atmos and spatial audio.
The HomePod Show would be a high-quality speaker with a touchscreen and camera that is “designed to be heard and seen.”
The idea suggests its Retina display will show weather forecasts, upcoming appointments and help navigate HomeKit controls and perform other tasks with Siri’s help. It’s also meant to serve as an intercom for communicating with people in other rooms of the house, apparently via Apple’s Intercom feature, which came out in late 2020.
For our money, the HomePod TV concept may be a little closer to fully baked than the HomePod Show concept. For one thing, an iPhone can handle a lot of what the Show is meant to do. But having it all built into a high-quality audio hub that serves as a sort of nerve center for the home and the user’s daily tasks may have some appeal.