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.
The device, says Bloomberg, would "represent Apple's most ambitious smart-home hardware offering to date." In terms of functionality, the report says the device would function like an Apple TV in terms of streaming content and playing games, but with a built-in speaker similar to a HomePod. The inclusion of a camera would also bring FaceTime to the big screen for the first time too.
The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.
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.