Imitation is always the sincerest form of flattery, and although Apple has earned its reputation as a pioneer over the years, the Cupertino giant is currently the one playing copycat – that is, if Bloomberg's Mark Gurman is to be believed.
In a Bloomberg report focusing on Apple's propensity for slipping dormant pieces of tech into its devices (including an unactivated temperature/humidity sensor in the HomePod Mini that might afford it greater command over your smart home in the future) Gurman casually mentioned in closing that Apple has "been developing new speakers with screens and cameras".
New story: Apple’s HomePod mini has a secret temperature and humidity sensor that may eventually be used with HomeKit. Photos of the part, what it means for users, and details on what else Apple has cooking for homes https://t.co/UOBYVtLkiMMarch 22, 2021
As noted by MacRumours, Gurman's report suggests that Apple is at least considering the idea of new HomePod models with cameras and displays to compete with Google's Nest Hub Max and Amazon's 3rd-gen Echo Show 10 (main image), but Gurman is quick to state that "a launch isn't imminent" and of course, there's no guarantee we'll ever see a HomePod/iPad combination on the market.
Google's new Nest Hub Max is equipped with a 10-inch touchscreen that can also be controlled vocally with Google Assistant. It allows users to view daily info including weather forecasts, stream video from Netflix and others with built-in Chromecast, play music through the stereo speaker system, make video calls using the built-in 6.5MP camera and control smart home accessories.
Amazon's recent Echo Show 10 goes one better (or creepier, depending on your thoughts on being watched) in that the device's 10-inch screen can turn to follow you around the room – a first for an Amazon device (though the Facebook Portal has the same feature). Amazon also claims the screen is brighter than the displays on previous Echo Shows, and it has a 13MP camera to show off your face in all its glory.
A camera-equipped HomePod would doubtless offer similar (but Apple-centric) visual functionality such as FaceTime video calling and HomeKit integration, if indeed it ever hits shelves.
Just 10 days ago, Apple announced its decision to discontinue the HomePod and concentrate its efforts on the smaller, more affordable, quite wonderful HomePod Mini. Gurman said that Apple still lacks a "unifying strategy" for the smart home market, but it's easy to forget that Apple was rather late to the smart speaker party, launching the original HomePod in 2018.
Will we be inviting the HomePad – as it may or may not be dubbed – into our home at some point? It's certainly an interesting proposition. Watch this space.
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