Apple is rumored to be developing a new version of its HomePod smart speaker with a Apple Touchscreen HomePod display, according to reports from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. This potential new HomePod model would represent the first time Apple adds a screen to its Siri-powered speaker, bringing new functionality and interactivity.
While Apple has yet to officially confirm it is working on a touchscreen HomePod, Kuo and other sources have provided early details on what to expect from this device based on Apple’s plans. Here is a comprehensive look at everything we know so far about the rumored touchscreen Apple HomePod.
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What is Release Date and Availability
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning to launch the new touchscreen HomePod in the first half of 2024. This would mark just over three years after the launch of the second-generation HomePod in early 2023.
Kuo originally predicted the touchscreen HomePod would launch in 2023 but has since revised the timeline to 2024. Nevertheless, a release in the first half of next year would make sense based on Apple’s typical smart speaker refresh cycles.
The touchscreen HomePod will likely be positioned as a higher-end, more expensive model above the standard HomePod. Availability will likely mirror past HomePod releases, with the speaker launching first in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and other key markets.
Design and Hardware
As the name implies, the marquee new feature of the touchscreen HomePod will be…a touchscreen. Few details have emerged yet on the potential size and resolution of the HomePod’s display, but it will presumably be large enough for comfortable viewing and interaction from across a room.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, another reliable Apple leaker, has reported the touchscreen will be attached with a robotic arm that can follow users as they move around the room. This could allow for advanced gesture controls and always-visible information and visuals.
The touchscreen display will likely be built with premium materials like glass to match Apple’s aesthetic. It may resemble something like an iPad mounted to a speaker. There’s also a chance it could feature 3D sensing cameras for motion controls similar to the latest iPads.
Beyond the touchscreen, the new HomePod is expected to include upgraded audio components for improved sound quality. Apple will want to maintain the excellent acoustic performance that has made the HomePod a class leader.
The touchscreen model will also probably have an updated processor and the latest wireless connectivity options like Wi-Fi 6E. Multiple microphones for Siri and smart home control will again be a key element. Overall, Apple will aim to make this the most advanced HomePod yet.
How to use New Features and Functionality
The touchscreen opens up many new possibilities to enhance the HomePod experience and differentiate the high-end model. Here are some of the ways Apple could take advantage of the interactive display.
- Home automation controls – With a touchscreen, users could visually manage smart home devices like lights, locks, thermostats instead of relying on Siri voice commands alone. Apple could display live feeds from smart security cameras as well.
- Visual responses – Siri could respond to queries with visual information displayed on the screen instead of only spoken answers. This could include weather forecasts, sports scores, calendar appointments, maps, and more.
- Home Hub functionality – Like Amazon’s Echo Show, the HomePod could become a central hub for family organization, with shared calendars, notes, reminders, and messaging.
- Video calling – With a camera, microphone, and screen, the HomePod would become a standalone device for FaceTime video chats without needing an iPhone or iPad.
- Music and video – Album art and music visualizers could accompany songs. Users could watch movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, and more.
- Smart kitchen assistant – In the kitchen, the HomePod could display recipes, timers, cooking directions, and other helpful information.
- Touchscreen games – Apple could develop original games or adaptations of Apple Arcade games optimized for a tabletop touchscreen speaker experience.
- Photo and screenshot sharing – Users could share photos from their iPhone photo library and take screenshots to instantly put on the HomePod display.
- Home bar – With cocktail recipes and the ability to play music, the HomePod could become the ultimate home bartender.
These examples demonstrate just some of the versatility a touchscreen could bring to the HomePod. It would significantly expand the device’s capabilities and utility beyond audio into a more full-featured smart home hub.
What is iOS Integration
Given its expanding list of uses, the touchscreen HomePod would likely run a version of iOS or iPadOS optimized for its desktop orientation. This would allow tight integration with iPhone and iPad and make it feel like an extension of those devices.
Possible integration features could include:
- Handoff to instantly transfer music, podcasts, and calls between iPhone/iPad and the HomePod
- Universal Clipboard for easy copying and pasting between devices
- Shared notifications, calendars, reminders, notes, and messages
- Shared photos and albums from iPhone library
- Siri, HomeKit, and health data syncing across devices
- Extended desktop for using HomePod as additional display for Mac
- Automatic unlocking of iPhone/iPad when nearby
- Safari tab and desktop mirroring from Mac
- Multi-user support with distinct profiles tied to individual Apple IDs
With deep iOS/iPadOS integration, the touchscreen HomePod would feel less like just an accessory and more like a core part of Apple’s connected ecosystem.
If and when it materializes, Apple’s touchscreen HomePod will enter a competitive smart display market dominated by Amazon and Google.
Products like the Echo Show, Nest Hub Max, and Facebook Portal already offer touchscreens paired with voice assistants, entertainment features, and smart controls. However, early HomePod sales indicate customers have a clear appetite for premium smart speakers.
The high-end HomePod model could appeal to users more invested in Apple’s ecosystem and looking for tighter iPhone/iPad/Mac integration. Its superior sound quality also gives it an edge over competitors. And with advanced technologies like facial recognition and object detection, Apple could stand out on software-enabled experiences.
Still, launching first gives competitors time to respond. Amazon, Google, and others may launch copycat touchscreen smart speakers by 2024. But Apple’s exacting standards for design, audio, and engineering could make the touchscreen HomePod a category leader if done right.
What is Price and Positioning
With its more advanced feature set, the touchscreen HomePod will demand a higher price than the standard model, very likely $349 or more. The pricing could match up with existing premium smart displays like:
- Amazon Echo Show 15: $249
- Facebook Portal Plus: $279
- Google Nest Hub Max: $229
Higher-end materials, audio components, and the complex touchscreen mechanism will factor into the increased cost. But positioning it above cheaper smart displays will also reinforce the HomePod’s status as the luxury choice for an Apple-centric household.
Apple already charges a premium for HomePod compared to competing smart speakers. The current 2nd-generation model costs $299 versus $99 for the base Amazon Echo and $99 for the 4th-generation Google Nest Audio.
The touchscreen variant would take this upscale positioning even further. Apple will market it as the ultimate smart home hub and entertainment speaker for fans invested in its broader ecosystem. Expect it to be a centerpiece of Apple’s retail stores after launch.
While details remain limited, the prospect of Apple launching a touchscreen HomePod in 2024 looks increasingly likely based on mounting reports. This would open up many new use cases beyond audio and help justify the HomePod’s premium pricing.
Of course, Apple’s plans could change or be delayed between now and launch. Availability of complex components like the robotic arm display could also be a challenge given global supply chain issues. Pricing will be key as Apple aims to make the touchscreen model appeal to more affluent customers.
But with smart home technology becoming mainstream and voice assistants commonplace, the touchscreen could help Apple reassert the HomePod’s market-leading status. This innovative concept has huge potential if Apple executes it with the level of refinement its customers expect.
The touchscreen HomePod would perfectly complement Apple’s existing ecosystem of devices. It would bring Apple’s classic ease of use and seamless integration to the smart home in an accessible new way. For iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV owners wanting a hub at the center of their connected homes, the touchscreen HomePod looks set to deliver.
The rumored addition of a touchscreen to the HomePod smart speaker lineup represents an exciting development for Apple. If the reports and predictions hold true, Apple could launch this innovative new HomePod model as soon as the first half of 2024.
By incorporating a touchscreen and full iOS/iPadOS capabilities, this premium HomePod variant would establish a new category of smart home and audio devices. The interactive display would open up many new use cases like home automation control, visual responses from Siri, video calls, entertainment viewing, and more.