By Jonathan Easton
Apple is reportedly working in a new Apple TV unit that combines a HomePod speaker and a camera with the streaming box.
According to sources cited by Bloomberg, the company wants to make a major play for an all-encompassing smart home device, with an Amazon Echo Show-like smart screen device also being considered.
The new Apple TV would function like the existing unit, but also integrate a high-end speaker which can also be used akin to other smart speakers via the Siri AI assistant. It would also include a camera for video chat like Facebook’s Portal product range, and allow users to video message friends and family via iMessage and FaceTime.
A new Apple TV has long been anticipated, with the product lines not being updated since the release of the Apple TV 4K in 2017. Apple merged its HomePod and Apple TV engineering groups last year, making integration of the product lines more likely.
Meanwhile, the smart display device would combine the high-end HomePod speaker with an iPad. This, the report says, would also have a robotic arm which would follow a user around a room like the latest Echo Show. Should this device be running the full version of iOS, it would have a significant advantage over Amazon and Google’s similar products due to their much more limited app offering.
Both products would heavily lean into Apple’s HomeKit software for smart home integration. Apple has lagged behind its competitors in terms of smart home support, but this renewed engagement in the space would likely attract new partners.
While the products would undoubtedly cause a stir in the industry, Bloomberg cautions that development is still in early conceptual stages, and the devices could not see the light of day at all.
Elsewhere in the Apple product development rumour mill, the Mac maker is believed to be closer to launching its mixed reality headset in 2022 with more details emerging last month. The unit is said to be lighter than the latest iPhones at 150 grams with 8K displays and eye-tracking technology – with an eye-watering US$3,000 price tag.