Apple Has a New ‘Home Accessory’ in the Works

Apple HomePod Concept Credit: Technointerest / Reddit
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Amidst a collection of leaked product identifiers for new iPhone and iPad models, a reference has been found to a new “Home Accessory” that could point to Apple’s next-generation HomePod hub.

Code discovered by MacRumors reveals an entirely new category of device identifiers, “HomeAccessory17,1,” which suggests something beyond a mere HomePod.

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Apple’s HomePods have always used “AudioAccessory” identifiers. The original 2017 HomePod was designated AudioAccessory1,1, followed by AudioAccessory5,1 for the HomePod mini and AudioAccessory6,1 for the early 2023 second-generation HomePod.

For the HomePod, the numbers don’t align with the iPhone and iPad processor generations. Instead, the newer ones follow the corresponding Apple Watch models since they use the same S-series chips. The HomePod mini contains the S5 chip from the Apple Watch Series 5 (Watch 5,x), while the second-generation HomePod updated that to an S7 chip from the Apple Watch Series 7 (Watch 6,x). The original HomePod used Apple’s A8 chip, so its identifier doesn’t match anything else.

However, the “17” in the new Home Accessory is enough of a jump that it likely aligns with the iPhone17 identifiers we’ve seen for this year’s iPhone lineup. This suggests that whatever this new accessory is, it will be powered by Apple’s latest A18 silicon.

That’s significant since none of the existing HomePods will be able to handle Apple Intelligence, which means Apple is likely preparing a new model that will pack in the more conversational and much smarter Siri. More importantly, it’s also likely to go beyond being a mere speaker (audio accessory) into a full-featured home accessory.

This is undoubtedly the new display-equipped HomePod we’ve heard about for years. There’s still no word on what that HomePod will look like, but rumors have been circulating for years describing a HomePod that could act as an Apple Home Hub, akin to a Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show. It’s arguably the biggest piece missing from Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem.

Over the past few months, leaks have suggested that Apple is developing two HomePod-like devices. There’s “B720,” which is expected to be little more than a traditional HomePod with an LCD panel on top?, plus a more exciting “Z314,” which is expected to sport an iPad mini-sized display, making it a much more hub-like device.

This mysterious new device would undoubtedly qualify as a “home” accessory rather than merely an “audio” accessory, and there’s already been code found in tvOS 17.4 outlining a user interface for it. Reports have also revealed that Apple has been testing tvOS on an iPad mini.

That device was described as having an A15 Bionic chip, although that may have merely been a prototype. In an age of Apple Intelligence, skipping ahead to at least an A17 Pro makes much more sense since it’s safe to say Apple is probably done releasing devices that won’t support its new AI initiative.

The biggest question that remains is what form this mythic home accessory will take. We’ve seen plenty of concept ideas, ranging from a simple Nest-like home hub to an iPad that extends from a base speaker using an articulating arm.

More recently, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has suggested that Apple’s next home accessory will be “an entirely new robotic device with a display that includes Apple Intelligence at its core.”

While such a device is arguably long overdue, the new code references don’t necessarily mean it’s coming this year. Gurman doesn’t expect Apple to release any new HomePods before 2025, and some of these identifiers are clearly longer-term since they also include references to M5-equipped iPads, which are also likely a year away.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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