Apple Has Big Plans for Its Next HomePod (But Don’t Expect It Anytime Soon)

Apple Home TV concept Credit: Antonio DeRosa
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In addition to laying out Apple’s future AirPods roadmap, a recent report by Bloomberg included another interesting tidbit on Apple’s plans for the next generation of its recently discontinued HomePod, and, depending on your perspective, they’re both promising and disappointing at the same time.

Apple surprised pretty much everyone when it announced the death of the full-sized HomePod earlier this year without a replacement in sight. Instead, Apple made it clear that it intended to put all of its near-term efforts into the much more popular HomePod mini.

It was a disappointing move for at least some Apple enthusiasts, who had hoped a new and improved model was on the horizon, but it was also a somewhat understandable move when you consider that the more expensive HomePod never gained much more than niche appeal. On the other hand, the $99 HomePod mini quickly became a runaway success, and it makes sense that Apple wanted to focus on its best-selling speaker.

What was truly bizarre, however, was when Apple released the 2021 Apple TV 4K with new features exclusive to the discontinued HomePod, even going so far as to include a picture of the full-sized HomePod on the back of the box. It was unusual enough that Apple discontinued the HomePod less than four months after introducing a new Home Theatre Audio feature for it, but to actually introduce a new hardware product with special features for the HomePod two months after it was killed off was downright mystifying.

In retrospect, it’s probably easy to see why Apple didn’t mention the new eARC capabilities even in passing, as it wasn’t about to admit that one of the best new features on the Apple TV 4K is something that most new customers won’t be able to take advantage of for much longer — although it’s another excellent reason to snap up a HomePod before they’re all gone, the day will soon come when that won’t be an option.

HomePod 2?

Naturally, this led to some speculation that Apple actually has a “HomePod 2” waiting in the wings, and that perhaps it just announced the discontinuation of the smart speaker sooner to clear out an overabundance of original HomePod stock.

However, we’ve seen so little evidence of that recently that we have our doubts, and we think there’s probably a simpler explanation, and it’s probably for the same reasons Find My Remote still doesn’t exist.

Apple’s culture of secrecy means that its various hardware teams rarely talk to each other. While they’re certainly plugged into senior management at the highest levels, it’s easy to envision how a second-string product like the Apple TV 4K doesn’t get a lot of attention from upper-level executives who are busy overseeing the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

So, even if Apple had been planning to discontinue the HomePod for a long time, chances are nobody actually told this to the Apple TV and tvOS teams, leaving them dutifully plodding along and blissfully adding cool new features with no idea that the rug was about to be pulled out from under them.

Or, perhaps Apple’s decision to cancel the full-sized HomePod really was a more spur-of-the-moment thing. In that case, it’s even more likely that nobody working on tvOS would have had any idea this was coming, and once the features were in there, there was no reason to pull them out. After all, in the short term they could offer a really nice bonus reward for those who had invested in Apple’s smart speaker system.

More importantly, Home Theatre Audio and eARC are features that likely align well with Apple’s longer-term plans for its home entertainment ecosystem. As a concept, the HomePod is far from dead, but it also seems that Apple realizes that its more expensive full-sized smart speaker needs a pretty big wardrobe change before it reappears on stage for act three.

HomePod Hub

We’ve already heard reports that Apple has bigger plans in store, possibly merging the HomePod and Apple TV in some way, or adding an iPad-like screen to the smart speaker to make it more of a home hub.

Last month, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman noted that if Apple succeeds in bringing such a product to market, “it would represent Apple’s most ambitious smart-home hardware offering to date.”

At this point, however, it’s not even clear what direction Apple is going in, and we’re not even sure Apple knows. In Bloomberg’s latest report, Gurman doubles down on the news he previously shared about a more advanced and powerful HomePod, but also adds that it’s only in “early development.”

As part of its broader home, audio and accessories strategy, Apple has also begun early development of a HomePod speaker with a built-in screen as well as a device that combines the features of a HomePod, FaceTime camera and Apple TV.


While it sounds like Apple is working on at least two different angles right now, it seems likely that it hasn’t even decided on a final path forward, and it’s likely just exploring different ideas. This means an actual product is likely a very long way off.

After all, consider that it took Apple four years to move between two generations of Apple TV 4K, and as great as the new model is, it’s far from revolutionary. It was also three years before the HomePod evolved into the HomePod mini.

So, we don’t recommend holding your breath for whatever Apple is working on next. While the features that are in tvOS 14.6 and the Apple TV 4K now will undoubtedly power the next generation of Apple’s home entertainment hub, if you want to take advantage of things like Home Theatre Audio now, we’d recommend snagging one of Apple’s now-discontinued HomePods before they’re all gone. If there ends up being high demand for these newest features, then maybe Apple will see the wisdom in releasing an interim “HomePod 2” to tide everyone over, or even putting the original HomePod back into production, but we certainly wouldn’t count on it.

[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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