Rumours of a cheaper, smaller Apple HomePod smart speaker have been circling for the best part of two years – pretty much since the HomePod debuted in February 2018. According to a new Bloomberg (opens in new tab) report, we could see this miniature HomePod "in the second half of this year".
The report states that it will be in-line with the original HomePod's design but about half the size according to "people familiar with its development". With the HomePod among the most expensive smart speakers on the market, an inevitably cheaper price tag for the smaller variant should help the company better compete with the more affordable Amazon Echo and Sonos One.
The report also speculates on a new HomePod feature, Apple Tags. The wireless accessory will reportedly allow owners to track objects like keys and wallets – much like existing Bluetooth trackers, such as Tile. These thin, puck-shaped tags have reportedly been in development for over a year and will be bundled with a leather sleeve, plus keychains to attach to your valuables.
In order to broaden the HomePod family's appeal, Apple is also said to be acquiring AI startups to help it improve Siri and add additional (and we expect exclusive) music services to the HomePod. While the HomePod is easily the best-sounding smart speaker out there, it isn't fully voice compatible with as many third-party music services as some of its rival speakers, instead being dependant on Apple Music. These AI acquisitions, as reported by Bloomberg, could help change that.