Rumor has it that Apple is working on a new smart speaker with a display and camera built in. It would explain why the traditional HomePod product has been canned – because Apple needs space at the price point – and it would give users the opportunity to enjoy more than just audio from their smart speaker. But that's just the start because, ideally, a HomePod with a display could change the way we use apps.
The benefits of a screen attached to a HomePod are obvious. You'll be able to see things like song lyrics and graphical responses to questions posed to Siri. FaceTime is another obvious use case here, but it goes beyond all of that. Imagine being able to pull OmniFocus up on your kitchen HomePod, for example. Or ask Siri for the weather and see a full 24-hour forecast from your app of choice.
Yes, you could watch YouTube and the latest Apple TV+ show, presumably. But there could be a whole new corner of the App Store dedicated to apps specifically designed for such a device. They would be like iPad apps, but not. It's something I've been thinking about since I saw developer Steve Troughton-Smith make the same observations earlier today as he pondered the Bloomberg story.
Exactly. Sure, some people will say they don't need something like this because they have an iPhone and an iPad and an Apple Watch and a Mac and their Apple TV and so on and so on. But that doesn't mean that a HomePod Max wouldn't be a great idea and one that I'd probably throw money at. Especially if Apple could give us something with an always-on display and something akin to widgets or complications.
Just imagine what an App Store full of developers could do with something like that!
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
"But there could be a whole new corner of the App Store dedicated to apps specifically designed for such a device. They would be like iPad apps, but not." In order to have voice apps like the other smart speakers, never mind smart display apps from Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Apple would have to fix Siri, and SiriKit, first! As it stands today SiriKit is way too limiting and restricted for any developers to make any useful apps for the HomePods. You don't have to look to far to see that the HomePods have next to NO apps. Even then Apple limits the categories in which developers can make their voice apps. For instance no developer can make a Siri game app for the HomePod, or an app for a hospital that would support HomePods, or banking, the limitations for Siri today are just too great. Apple needs to change that first, then they can work on smart displays.
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