Sorry folks, Apple might be making a new futuristic horizontal HomePod, but this isn't it — patent for ill-fated Beats Pill XL bamboozles the internet

Patent Beats Pill XL
(Image credit: Apple)

I’d love to be proved wrong, but what everyone else seems to be calling a new soundbar-like Apple HomePod of the future looks a whole lot like the old ‘pump loud tunes and pray it doesn’t burn your house down’ Beats Pill XL to me. Why? Let me explain.

While there have been loads of exotic rumors that point to upcoming HomePods with removable screens and panning motors in them so that you can see them at all times, none of them have pointed towards something that looks like the images that are in a patent recently granted to Apple.

That’s a pill, mate.

Beats Pill patent

(Image credit: Apple)

In the patent are images of a long, pill-shaped speaker. There’s what looks to be a mesh cover that makes up the curved portion of the speaker, much akin to the Beats Pill Bluetooth speakers of old. The rear of the device seems shaped to allow the speaker to stand on its side, angled so that the music-making part faces either upwards slightly or forwards.

Beats Pill XL patent

(Image credit: Apple)

What some outlets are calling ports on the back look to be little more than either controls (they are round) or other design elements, while the large square is more likely hiding a charging port.

Upon further inspection, the diagrams match, almost exactly, the old, recalled Beats Pill XL. From the recessed stripe and the circular housing for the Beats logo on the front, to the four buttons, battery lights, and the oblong connections cover on the rear— the images in the patent are of the Beats Pill XL.

Beats Pill XL

(Image credit: Apple/Beats)

Apple often files for, and is granted, patents for products already out there on the market. Take this ‘stylus for electronic devices’ patent published on April 30, for example. The patent clearly depicts the Apple Pencil and an iPad that can detect force and input, just like Apple’s current iPad lineup.

This doesn’t preclude a new Beats Pill speaker coming in the future. Indeed, Apple seems to be making more of an effort with the Beats line than it has previously. There were the Beats Studio Pro and the Studio Buds Plus last year, and now there are rumors of new Solo4 headphones and low-cost Solo Buds. A new Pill speaker could round out the line perfectly, and given that Lebron James was spotted with one that looks eerily similar to that on the patent, it's possible Apple is planning to resurrect the Pill, albeit without a significant design change. Famously, Apple announced a voluntary recall of its Beats Pill XL speakers, including a refund for customers, in 2015, after it emerged the battery inside may overheat, posing a fire safety risk.

If nothing else, that’s a very Beats B-shaped circle on the front. Future or past, we’d bet the house that this is not a new Apple soundbar, HomePod, or the futuristic robot droid you’ve been looking for.

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.