Apple tipped to be working on a HomePod with a screen — here’s what we know

Apple HomePod 2 listing
(Image credit: Future)

The HomePod is hardly the jewel in Apple’s crown, but the company’s smart speaker may soon be in store for a big upgrade. Code references in the tvOS 17.4 developer beta 3 seen by 9To5Mac refers to a new device called “Z314” that could be the next HomePod. Rumors are heavy that the next iteration will arrive with a seven-inch display, akin to the Amazon Echo Show 8, that’ll effectively merge an iPad with a HomePod.

Apple issued the developer beta 3 on Tuesday and made an intriguing inclusion. Although HomePod runs tvOS (the same as Apple TV) it doesn’t include any UI functionality since the screenless speaker doesn’t require it. But the developer beta now includes SwiftUI frameworks and a tool for UI debugging iOS apps for HomePod. Which is strange unless you consider the fact Apple is preparing to release a new HomePod with a display attached.

Digging further into the code, it appears the “Z314” product will be running on an A15 Bionic chip. It’s believed both internal and production versions of the product are already being tested inside Apple, meaning things are in the latter stages of development.

It’s believed both internal and production versions of the product are already being tested inside Apple.

That would jive with predictions from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who predicted in a Medium post last year that Apple planned to unveil a HomePod with a 7-inch screen in the first half of 2024. “I predict that Apple will unveil a redesigned HomePod featuring a 7-inch panel in 1H24, with Tianma as the exclusive panel supplier," Kuo wrote. “The HomePod, which equips a panel, could enable tighter integration with Apple's other hardware products, marking a significant shift in the company's smart home strategy."

Understandably a HomePod with a screen would have a myriad of benefits for users. It would be capable of acting as a smart home hub thanks to the Home app and, if it had a camera on board, serve as a useful way to FaceTime friends and family. Media playback could be handled hands-free if you wanted to follow along with a recipe in the kitchen or integrate it with Fitness+ during an at-home workout.

Amazon and Google have been offering smart displays for years so displacing them will take some work. But thanks to HomeKit and the Matter standard, not to mention the ubiquity of iPhones, a display-equipped HomePod could find a willing audience. It may be the case that we hear more about this device at WWDC 2024, but for now we’ll have to wait and see.

More from Tom's Guide

Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.