There have been loads of experiences of Apple seeking to get into the sensible display screen recreation over the past couple of years. There’s been speak of iPads mimicking the Pixel Pill’s potential to show into Nest Hub-like gadgets when docked, a devoted HomePod sensible display screen and even an Apple TV/HomePod hybrid.
However the first bodily proof of Apple engaged on a HomePod with a display screen is one thing fully completely different. It appears identical to a traditional HomePod 2, solely there’s a small LCD display screen embedded within the prime of the speaker.
That picture is courtesy of the gadget collector and occasional leaker Kosutami, who was beforehand proved right about Apple abandoning its silicone equipment for the iPhone 15. Within the image, you’ll be able to see the HomePod operating a (very faint) app referred to as “LcdUTest”.
9to5Mac has confirmed with its sources that this isn’t a hoax. Codenamed B720, the “advanced-stage prototype” is actual and, as you would possibly count on, “LcdUTest” is an inside utility utilized by engineers to check the show. Intriguingly, the location claims the gadget is being “actively labored on by Apple”, and isn’t “one thing that the corporate has experimented with previously.”
The location’s sources have just a few different fascinating tidbits in regards to the prototype. Like all HomePods, the speaker runs a fork of tvOS referred to as audioOS, and Apple has apparently been tweaking sure tvOS apps to run within the completely different facet ratio (one thing not required for Apple TV, as televisions have all coalesced across the identical one).
There’s proof within the tvOS 17 code that Apple Music and Apple Podcasts have been rewritten for this new facet ratio, which makes numerous sense given it will nonetheless clearly be predominantly an audio gadget.
Whereas the location concedes that it’s too early to know for positive what the interface will seem like, its sources counsel that the show will present a “blurred animation based mostly on the colours of the album artwork when a track or podcast is enjoying.” There are additionally “hints that it’s going to present some essential notifications, probably to reply telephone calls and reply to messages.”
A display screen, however not a wise display screen
Ought to it ever see the sunshine of day, this HomePod feels extra like an evolution of the present design somewhat than a full embrace of sensible screens. One other option to management the speaker somewhat than a way of absorbing info — in spite of everything, who spends a lot time standing over a wise speaker wanting down?
Certainly, this feels extra Apple CarPlay than Nest Hub: largely a manner of seeing fundamental particulars and controlling playback.
However that doesn’t imply this isn’t a course Apple is extra typically. And with Ming-Chi Kuo predicting a HomePod with a 7-inch display screen for subsequent yr, it’s completely doable that a number of the software program developed for this prototype will get a second life elsewhere, as Apple appears to make a much bigger dent within the smarthome in 2024.