Apple could build the social soundbar of our dreams
The Apple TV has always been one of those Apple products that people wonder if the company considers a hobby. Especially as competitors continuously release cheaper hardware with similar capabilities, the Apple TV seems prime for reinvention. A new report from Bloomberg says that might be exactly what is happening.
According to the report, the company is working on an Apple TV that would also include a speaker and camera.
While many have pictured a HomePod with Apple TV functionality built-in, or an Apple TV with a speaker grill running around the outside of it, I think the company could be working on a full-fledged soundbar. I also think it would be the right move and would finally make the Apple TV a major competitor for the living room.
While TV displays have improved over the years, the sound quality has taken a nosedive. There are exceptions, of course, but the logical setup that many people now have in their living room is a flat-panel television with a soundbar. Instead of trying to go against this perfect combo, Apple could build one of the best-sounding and most capable soundbars out there. This approach wouldn't necessarily be new, either. Roku has been building their streaming platform into soundbars for years now, and customers seem to love the convenience of having everything built into one piece of hardware.
While this basic idea isn't new, Apple could bring its magic to this experience like few others could. For one, the company could use its years of experience in audio with the HomePod and build an incredibly great sounding soundbar. With AirPlay, it could also leverage its wireless audio technology to allow users to set up the HomePod mini as their surround sound speakers if they chose. This would enable the company to compete with other popular home audio companies like Sonos.
Things could also get really interesting with a built-in FaceTime camera. Let's face it, we all get tired of holding up our iPhone when we FaceTime someone. Letting us do it from the couch would be a lot more comfortable. With everything that Apple has learned with the iPhone, it could build a fantastic FaceTime experience for the television.
That camera could also be used for other services. People are already getting together on their computers to watch content in shared streaming experiences. Apple could bring that experience to something like Apple TV+. Imagine sitting down in your living room to watch Mythic Quest with your friends, but everyone is at their own home.
If you can't wait for something like a soundbar with Apple TV built-in and are in the market for some TV audio now, check out our list of the Best AirPlay 2 Soundbars 2021.
While the report says that the product could change or be nixed entirely, I really hope that Apple comes through with someone like this. It would not only be the future of the Apple TV, but the future of the living room.
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Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.
A soundbar is great as an additional option, but I've got dedicated surround sound speakers already and don't need one. I still just want an updated Apple TV that I can put in my media cabinet out of sight. As far as a FaceTime camera built in, make it an option. My TV is for entertainment only. I have multiple devices for FaceTime calls already. Besides, video calls on your TV has been done before and it's my opinion people don't really want or need this.
Sounds great, however i don't actually have room for a soundbar infront of my tv... unless it's really really small. The AppleTv sit's nicely BEHIND the Tv (i even considered taping it to the back at one point), hidden away. I think this is a cool idea, but it does concern me a bit in terms of usability - hopefully they offer this as an optional format if true..
All my video equipment is connected to a stereo pre-amp for 5.1 surround sound, so turning the AppleTV into a sound bar would be counter productive, not to mention the thing would probably cost $1000 in an era when EVERY other streaming device can be had for less than $50. That $50 and less market is where Apple needs to have a presence. Build a sound bar, fine, I won't be buying it but some people might, but put out something with a reasonable price that competes in the overall market.
I worked hard to have no wires showing. I need the puck with updated hardware and features. As for sound I already use Homepods for that and the sync with the Apple TV works great. Please Apple don't shove something that going to require me to have exposed wires running down my wall. I will have to completely change my home entertainment set up to Roku and will no longer n=be an all Apple home.