Everything we know about the next HomePod

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple's smart speaker family could expand in the future, with speculation of a new HomePod release on the way. Here's what Apple is rumored to be preparing to launch.

The HomePod mini (left), the HomePod (right)
The HomePod mini (left), the HomePod (right)


Apple's HomePod lineup consists of just one current model at the moment: the HomePod mini. The original HomePod hasn't been available to buy since March 2021, leaving Apple customers with the HomePod mini as the only available option.

Given the HomePod mini was launched in November 2020 and its November 2021 update consisted of three color options and no feature changes, it seems the time is right for a new HomePod model to be introduced to the world.

Naturally, there is speculation about what it could look like, its functions, and when it will be available to buy. Here's everything we know about the future smart speaker launch.



When will Apple release a new HomePod?

As a product that doesn't generally enjoy a regular update cycle, like the iPhone's annual updates, Apple's introduction of a new HomePod model is much harder to pin down.

There have been two major HomePod launches in February 2018 and November 2020, equating to a 2-year-9-month gap between models. There is no hard-established cycle to work with here.

The nearest thing to a realistic schedule that has been suggested is from a tweet by TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo on May 20. In that tweet, Kuo says a new version of HomePod should arrive in the fourth quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023.

Apple's last HomePod mini refresh was in November 2021, consisting of new color options.
Apple's last HomePod mini refresh was in November 2021, consisting of new color options.


If accurate, that pins down a HomePod product line update anywhere from the usual time Apple introduces new iPhones to the first product launches of 2023.

That is if Apple does indeed decide to proceed with a new HomePod model. The company hasn't dominated the market as much as its rivals, but with the HomePod mini, it did see more headway in 2021.

A report indicated Apple's speaker shipments in Q3 2021 were double that of Q3 2020. However, while the HomePod mini was one of the top-selling smart speakers in the quarter, Apple was still fifth in the global rankings for the market.

Then again, given the connection to HomeKit, it's probable that there's something on the way. In August 2021, Apple was hiring more employees for product development, including "Home Services," pointing to Apple working to develop new designs.

However, there's always a chance it could decide to get out of the market entirely. Ultimately, it's all down to Apple.

What will the next HomePod be like?

As you may expect for rumors surrounding an Apple product, the claims about the next HomePod do vary quite a bit, but it generally falls into two main concepts. One is boring and more probable, the other is more interesting as an idea.

For the dull side, we don't have to look far -- May 2022's tweet by Ming-Chi Kuo, to be exact.

In the tweet about the late-2022/early-2023 launch schedule, the analyst proposes that "there may not be much innovation in hardware design." This may indicate that the next model could be very similar to the HomePod or HomePod mini designs, but with barely any major changes to its general appearance.

Apple would release a new version of HomePod in 4Q22-1Q23, and there may not be much innovation in hardware design. 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.

-- (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo)


Kuo puts this down to how Apple is "still figuring out how to succeed" in the smart speaker market, a product that is "undoubtedly one of the essential elements of the home ecosystem." Kuo seemingly suggests that straying far from the basic design is risky and a route Apple would have to consider strongly before going down.

An updated HomePod mini or rereleased HomePod could bring innovations, but mainly internally. This could take the form of getting the cost of the full-size HomePod down, adding more speakers, or improving the quality of the HomePod mini, for example.

Then there are features like the U1 chip in the HomePod mini that could be introduced to the HomePod, enabling a more enhanced handoff experience. There's also Thread, a smart home device communications standard that could benefit from the jump to a new HomePod.

It's the most straightforward and obvious route Apple could take for a new HomePod, but there are always other paths available.

HomePod-Apple TV?

Going beyond the idea of just a speaker on its own, one possible evolution is for Apple to create a do-all device for the home. Since the HomePod mini acts as a central hub for HomeKit, and HomePods are likely to be used in the living room within range of an Apple TV, Apple could potentially combine the two product lines into a single do-all product.

In March 2021, a report from Bloomberg said that Apple worked on such a combined product. Rather than owning an Apple TV and a HomePod, the rumored hardware would serve both categories.

Functioning similar to a HomePod, in it would be a speaker that could play music, the device could be hooked up to a television, providing Apple TV-style video playback. It would also include a built-in camera so that the connected TV could be used to provide FaceTime calls without needing to AirPlay share an iPhone or iPad display.

This is not an entirely new idea, as Facebook's Portal platform does include a set-top box with a camera that brings video calls to the home's largest screen.

Apple's proposed device would also work as a central home hub, letting it be used for smart home management.

HomePod-iPad?

The same March 2021 report also offered an alternative to the same concept. Rather than using a home's television as a screen, why not attach one to the device itself?

Apple was said to be looking at combining a smart speaker with a touchscreen, akin to attaching an iPad mini to a HomePod. The screen would provide similar benefits to an iPad or the previous device, including running apps like video streaming services and enabling video conferencing.

An artist's representation of a HomePod with a display.
An artist's representation of a HomePod with a display.


Again, this sounds like an idea used elsewhere, including the Amazon Echo Show and the Google Nest Hub.

A variation of this design that probably won't make it to market was the suggestion the screen-based assembly would be attached to a robotic arm. Such a concept could allow the screen to follow the user around the room, which could be handy for video calls when a user is walking about, or to offer the best angle for video playback.

More unlikely additions

Since Apple actively spends on research and development, there are almost certainly features considered for the HomePod that didn't make it into production or were abandoned for various reasons. It's entirely possible that the previously-dismissed elements could surface in new hardware.

For example, Apple has multiple patents relating to the use of fabric buttons for control of devices. Since the HomePod and HomePod mini both use a fabric exterior, the idea could allow external controls to be applied to the device without ruining the all-fabric aesthetic.

With Apple's lean into healthcare and fitness, it could potentially use a patent from February 2021 to turn the HomePod into a fitness tracker. The patent offers the idea of using radar transmitters in a circle to have a 360-degree view of its surroundings and nearby users.

The patent proposed it could identify individual users and potentially even gather health data using its results.

It's possible to run a HomePod mini from an external battery, but could Apple add a built-in battery in a future model?
It's possible to run a HomePod mini from an external battery, but could Apple add a built-in battery in a future model?


In January 2022, a report offered that Apple did prototype a version of the HomePod in the past that held a battery. Instead of using a HomePod mini and a USB-C battery pack, the device could contain a battery so that it was in a single self-contained and highly portable unit.

No recent rumors have suggested a portable HomePod is on the way. Apple did previously consider the idea, it's still a possibility for the future.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    smack416smack416 Posts: 62member
    A level up from the HomePod mini would be welcome.

    After using a number of original HomePods and HomePods mini alone and in stereo, the minis are a pale comparison to the original HomePod. I think the price difference was reasonable given the more fulsome sound.

    Something that gets closer to the original HomePod for $99 more than the mini would be great and maybe a better consumer price point than the original Homepod. I otherwise wouldn't buy or recommend another Homepod mini and will be crestfallen if something happens to my living room HomePods and there's no reasonably close equivalent to replace them.
    williamlondonAnilu_777mangakatten
  • Reply 2 of 30
    An outdoor version (or an indoor/outdoor version) would be awesome. I would love to have a HomePod on my back porch but not have to worry about it with rain and wind and dust and heat and cold.
    williamlondonmike1
  • Reply 3 of 30
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 333member
    I love my OG HomePod and wish it could work with my HomePod Minis to make a more surround sound experience. 
    BeatsforegoneconclusionAlex1N
  • Reply 4 of 30
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,067member
    The artist's rendering of a HomePod + screen is hilarious. "I have it! I will superimpose an iPad *on top of* a HomePod photo. Presto!"
    appleinsideruserforegoneconclusionmattinozAlex1Nradarthekat
  • Reply 5 of 30
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,067member
    Love my original HPs and the big, room-filling sound they make. Terrific for film + TV when running two on an ATV. Minis are nice scattered around the house, but it's the full-size bass of the HPs that makes the magic happen.
    BeatsAlex1Nramanpfaff
  • Reply 6 of 30
    Homepod + airport extreme (mesh network) makes sense to me then adding a display.  Dead simple networking for a whole home device
    BeatsJapheyhammeroftruthAlex1Nradarthekat
  • Reply 7 of 30
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,038member
    Love my original HPs and the big, room-filling sound they make. Terrific for film + TV when running two on an ATV. Minis are nice scattered around the house, but it's the full-size bass of the HPs that makes the magic happen.

    Can you create a 5.1/7.1 system with them?


    The artist's rendering of a HomePod + screen is hilarious. "I have it! I will superimpose an iPad *on top of* a HomePod photo. Presto!"


    I laughed when I saw the artist cut out a picture of an iPad and placed it on a HomePod picture. Genius!
  • Reply 8 of 30
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,379member
    I love my two original HomePods, use them every day.

    Biggest update I want to see is for Siri to not be stuck using the Internet to run basic commands. The amount of times I ask Siri to do something basic like to set a timer or switch off a light just for it to come back with some variation of “Hmmm, this is taking too long because I have to check with head office before I set your poxy fucking timer” is a real pain in the arse!

    I think there is some power saving feature going on because I find that after a couple of hours it goes through this brain fart stage of just timing out on whatever you ask it to do and then 30 seconds later it’s fine again. I wish I could turn off that feature, the kids crappy Amazon Echos never have this problem.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 9 of 30
    ctmike78ctmike78 Posts: 22member
    I hate that something so obvious needs to be suggested but if they could operate as lag free computer speakers, I would buy them in a heartbeat. Yes, including on (gasp) windows devices. It’s not hard. It’s just stubborn refusal and would make teams/zoom calls for remote workers much more pleasant to listen to. The ability to “work and play” is hugely valuable. 
    williamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 30
    Can this one not suck as a HomeKit Hub which ruins HomeKit secure video cameras? Can this one work on a mesh network better so Siri doesn’t constantly say she can’t connect to the internet? Can this one be 5Ghz compatible? Finally, could they make a wireless version? Just some observations from my experience with the mini in particular. 
    williamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 11 of 30
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,144member
    I do not see the use for an iPad-HomePod hybrid. It neither offers the portability of an iPad, nor the screen size of the average TV to enjoy in the living room.

    Alex1N
  • Reply 12 of 30
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,378member
    I do not see the use for an iPad-HomePod hybrid. It neither offers the portability of an iPad, nor the screen size of the average TV to enjoy in the living room.

    It wouldn’t be meant to be used like a traditional iPad or TV. It would be a competitor to an Echo Show or Google Nest Hub. It definitely wouldn’t be for everyone, but I know several people (myself included) that would love to replace their Echo Show with an Apple equivalent. 
    edited May 25
  • Reply 13 of 30
    leighrleighr Posts: 235member
    I think the two most likely scenarios would be an AppleTV/HomePod hub, or a HomePod that also allows you to magnetically dock your phone or iPad and use it as a screen for the HomePod, while also charging of course. 
  • Reply 14 of 30
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,985member
    Can this one not suck as a HomeKit Hub which ruins HomeKit secure video cameras? Can this one work on a mesh network better so Siri doesn’t constantly say she can’t connect to the internet? Can this one be 5Ghz compatible? Finally, could they make a wireless version? Just some observations from my experience with the mini in particular. 

    Never had an issue with any of my original HomePods or Minis working on my mesh network.
    williamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 15 of 30
    tmonlinetmonline Posts: 10member
    I wish they make it a bit dog friendly. 
    williamlondonstourque
  • Reply 16 of 30
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,283member
    An outdoor version (or an indoor/outdoor version) would be awesome. I would love to have a HomePod on my back porch but not have to worry about it with rain and wind and dust and heat and cold.
    B) I just said this once again to my lady this past weekend.

    I think a full sized redesigned Homepod in the $199.99 - $249.99 range and an outdoor splash/weatherproof offering similar to the Sonos Roam would do quite well for Apple IMHO.

  • Reply 17 of 30
    bengt77bengt77 Posts: 45member
    I would like to see an updated HomePod with slightly better audio and an ethernet port. It only having Wi-Fi has been the main reason why I never bought one.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 30
    602warren602warren Posts: 38member
    Personally been advocating this amongst friends and colleagues for a few years now, but an AppleTV built IN to a HomePod that looks like a soundbar seems like a no brainer to me. Sits right below your TV, looks kinda like the old Apple hi-fi but with updated 3D mesh, plays music and all that normal stuff, but keeps you from having to buy two separate products and de clutters your entertainment center. 
    roundaboutnowradarthekatgadgetfreak-apple
  • Reply 19 of 30
    602warren said:
    Personally been advocating this amongst friends and colleagues for a few years now, but an AppleTV built IN to a HomePod that looks like a soundbar seems like a no brainer to me. Sits right below your TV, looks kinda like the old Apple hi-fi but with updated 3D mesh, plays music and all that normal stuff, but keeps you from having to buy two separate products and de clutters your entertainment center. 
    ^^This...(well, not necessarily with the mesh)

    How about an Apple product along the lines of the Roku Streambar Pro. Maybe even also offer an optional subwoofer, and make the HP Minis usable as satellite rear channel speakers.

    (I have the Roku Streambar and Subwoofer -- the soundbar is a little "boxy" sounding IMO, but much better than TV speakers, and it is relatively inexpensive. All the streaming apps are there, including AppleTV, plus Airplay 2 supported. Gaming not really an option, but I'm OK with that.)
    602warrengadgetfreak-apple
  • Reply 20 of 30
    stourquestourque Posts: 360member
    I tried a pair of iPod minis as tv speakers. No good. They don’t get loud enough. I figured they’re pretty much only good as computer speakers or listening at low levels. I also have a regular HomePod and while the sound volume is definitely better, it’s still nowhere near the volume of the original iFi speaker. That one was awesome. I still use it.
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