Smart home envy happens to everyone, especially HomeKit users. But a new Bloomberg report suggests that Apple could release a HomePod with a smart display and FaceTime camera, a product that could give HomeKit a new sense of direction and provide a strong alternative to Nest Home Hub and Echo Show devices.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says that Apple is “developing new speakers with screens and cameras,” though such a product probably won’t launch in 2021. This leak is partially backed up by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, who recently discovered FaceTime and iMessage framework within the tvOS 14.5 beta code (Apple TV and HomePod share the same base code). This new FaceTime framework is different from the FaceTime Audio software currently built into the HomePod.
The aforementioned Bloomberg report also points to a temperature and humidity sensor hidden in the HomePod Mini. This sensor is currently disabled, though Apple could enable it at any time through a software update. Such a sensor could provide more accuracy for smart thermostats, though it could also provide visual temperature and humidity information on a HomeKit smart display.
Smart displays are often more accessible to beginner smart home owners than display-less speakers, and they support visual features like photo slideshows, temperature readings, video streaming, and video chat, which should appeal to people who wouldn’t normally invest in smart home equipment. Unfortunately, a HomeKit smart display probably won’t come out in 2021, and information on the product is scarce at this time.