Apple's HomePod Plans: What's in the Works for 2023 and Beyond
Apple seems to be testing multiple different ideas for future feature additions for the HomePod smart speaker, so we thought we'd highlight all of the different speaker rumors that we've heard so far.
At least one HomePod update is expected in 2023, though we may be waiting longer for some of the more fantastical functionality that we've seen rumored.
Larger-Sized HomePod (2023)
Apple in 2021 discontinued the original full-sized HomePod in order to focus on the more popular HomePod mini, but rumors suggest that Apple is once again ready to try selling a larger HomePod speaker.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said in 2020 that Apple is working on a HomePod that would be larger than the HomePod mini and closer in size to the original HomePod. It could be between the HomePod and HomePod mini in size, sound quality, and cost, offering an option for those who want something bigger than the mini but not as expensive as the first HomePod.
Such a speaker could be priced somewhere around $150 to $200, which would exceed the price of the $99 HomePod mini, but would be more affordable than the $299 HomePod.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in May 2022 said that Apple is designing a new HomePod, but he did not provide specifics on sizing and he said there "may not be much innovation in hardware design" for the new HomePod. It's possible that he was talking about the same middle-tier HomePod that Gurman has mentioned, but with a design similar to the HomePod.
Kuo said that the new HomePod could come out in late 2022 or early 2023, while Gurman says the larger HomePod is on track for a 2023 launch.
With 2022 out now that the year is close to over, it's sounding like we could see some kind of new HomePod option in the first quarter of the year, if the rumors are accurate. Apple could, perhaps, pair a new speaker announcement with the launch of Apple Music Classical, a new Apple Music feature that was slated for 2022 but did not come out.
New HomePod Mini (2023)
Alongside the larger HomePod that's in the works, Apple could do a simple refresh of the HomePod mini. New features are not expected, nor are design changes, but updated colors would be easy enough for Apple to debut. If a new HomePod is slated for 2023, it's likely that a minor refresh to the HomePod mini would come at the same time.
Apple TV and HomePod Hybrid
Apple in the future could combine the Apple TV and the HomePod into one device, creating a set-top box with high-end audio capabilities, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.
This HomePod and Apple TV hybrid device could feature a camera for video calls, with a connected TV serving as the screen. It would function like an Apple TV, offering gaming, support for streaming content, and music playback.
The project was described as being in the early stages in 2021, and it is not yet clear if Apple will move forward with it, but it is a design idea that makes a lot of sense because the HomePod mini and the Apple TV both run the same operating system and are often used for some of the same purposes.
iPad and HomePod Hybrid
Apple has been experimenting with future HomePod designs that could include a screen of some kind, akin to the Google Nest Hub Max, the Echo Show, and the Facebook Portal.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has described the device that Apple is working on as a high-end HomePod speaker connected to an iPad using a robotic arm. The arm would be able to rotate and move, following a user around the room when on a video call, for a more advanced version of the Center Stage video feature that Apple has added to some of its products.
The iPad/HomePod hybrid has been described as a device that is in the conceptualization stages, so there is a good chance that this one might never see the light of day. If it does come out, it could launch in the form of deeper integration between a future HomePod and iPad, along with an optional accessory arm to connect the two.
Apple has experimented with deeper integration between products for the past few years. The iPad and the Mac can link together to be controlled with one mouse or trackpad and one keyboard, for example, and the iPhone can link to a Mac to serve as its camera, so it would not be out of the question for Apple to pair the HomePod and iPad in new ways in the future.