What could be in store for the return of the big HomePod? | Cult of Mac

What could be in store for the return of the big HomePod?

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The big HomePod could be back soon. But how pricey and how functional will it be?
The beloved big HomePod could be back soon. But how pricey and how functional will it be?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple plans to produce an updated version of the HomePod as soon as the fourth quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023, supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Friday.

As reliable as Kuo can be, little other information exists beyond speculation. But that’s part of the fun.

A lot of folks are jonesing for an Apple smart speaker that goes beyond the HomePod mini. The original HomePod, while much more expensive, earned a great reputation for sound quality before Apple killed it in 2021. So naturally, Apple fans are interested in a successor, possibly with new features.

Updated HomePod could come in Q4 2022 or Q1 2023, Kuo tweeted

In the tweet below, Kuo said there “may not be much innovation in hardware design” for the new ‌HomePod‌.

That sounds like it might not get much bigger or smaller than the original. Or it could even be just a modified HomePod mini.

But will it have wireless and line-out functionality, unlike the mini? You would think so.

“Smart speakers are undoubtedly one of the essential elements of the home ecosystem, but I think Apple is still figuring out how to succeed in this market,” he went on to say, leaving the door open to rampant speculation.

As far as we know, there is no word on what size the device will be and if it will be a HomePod mini successor or a larger speaker to pair with the little ones. That is, the living room gets the big one and the minis are strategically placed throughout the home.

As for the HomePod mini, the only update it has seen since its November 2020 release came in the form of new colors about a year later.

Meanwhile, the original, discontinued HomePod keeps going up in value as a used product, showing a certain resilience and ongoing popularity.

Medium-size HomePod with a nice price?

Previously, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg said Apple is considering a new, medium-size version of the HomePod — something between the original ‌HomePod‌ and the ‌HomePod mini‌.

It’s possible he and Kuo are referring to the same speaker.

A speaker like that could be a good replacement for the discontinued ‌original HomePod‌. It probably would come in below $349, the original price point of the big HomePod, which many saw as key to its downfall. But a new speaker probably would cost more than the $99 HomePod mini.

HomeKit hub

Gurman also previously reported that Apple is working on a HomeKit-connected speaker equipped with screens and cameras to compete with devices like the Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show.

Popular audio-maker Sonos also beefed up its line of speakers connected to those systems, and recently introduced its own smart voice assistant, Sonos Voice.

However, the timeline on that type of speaker from Apple would most likely be longer than what Kuo suggests.

HomePod + iPad combo or Apple TV tie-in

Apple also could be testing versions of Apple TV combined with a ‌HomePod with a FaceTime camera. ‌That sort of thing could play into Apple’s efforts to reduce Apple TV cost structure, Kuo recently said.

In addition, some rumors have said Apple is looking into an iPad connected to a ‌HomePod‌ via a robotic arm, which would allow the camera to follow a user around the room.

Bring it on

Kuo’s new prediction is exciting for fans of the original HomePod, known for good sound. The big old HomePod has steadily gone up in value on sites like eBay.

And the HomePod mini really shouldn’t be Apple’s only smart speaker. A higher-quality audio source, which we already know Cupertino can handle, would be welcome — whether or not it’s also a HomeKit hub.

Before you know it, Q4 2022 and Q1 2023 will roll around, and hopefully Kuo is right that a new HomePod may roll out, too. If Cupertino can maintain the quality while reducing the price, it could be a big win.