A future Apple HomePod could look more like a soundbar — what we know

The Apple HomePod mini on a shelf next to a window
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There’s been a lot of speculation about what the next version of Apple’s HomePod may be like, and a new patent suggests we may get something different in the future. Apple Insider uncovered a patent filed by Apple, detailing a HomePod that has more of a soundbar-like design.

The patent refers to an “Audio Speaker System”  featuring an “ornamental design for an audio speaker system, as shown and described”. The patent itself is incredibly vague in terms of actual details, but the speaker itself is unlike any HomePod design we’ve seen so far.

The designs show off a horizontal speaker, akin to a chunky soundbar, rather than the existing vertical smart speaker aesthetic. The speaker is angled upwards at the front, and seems to be covered in some kind of material — no doubt something similar to the fabric used on the HomePod and HomePod Mini.

Apple HomePod patent featuring a soundbar-like design

(Image credit: USPTO)

There also seems to be a circular section in the center. While this is certainly going to be some kind of touchpad, it’s possible that this may be some kind of display. We’ve seen display components alleging to be from a future HomePod that feature this same circular design. 

It’s possible that this HomePod soundbar, if it ever sees the light of day, could incorporate this. Or it may be the traditional HomePod touchpad instead. Apple Insider also spotted that the back of the speaker seems to show ports.

This could be a place to connect other devices, like an Apple TV, or potentially even hook the speaker into existing AV setups. However the diagrams aren’t that detailed and it’s impossible to say what ports might be included at this stage.

The biggest issue with existing HomePods is that they’re completely wireless, streaming via Wi-Fi but also supporting Bluetooth and AirPlay from Apple devices. So having extra ports like this could prove to be a huge win, especially among AV enthusiasts.

Apple HomePod patent featuring a soundbar-like design rear side

(Image credit: USPTO)

Of course there’s no guarantee that this is a HomePod, or even that this is a product that’s definitely going to be released. While it looks like a HomePod of sorts, there’s also the possibility that it’ll be some kind of Beats speaker — and possibly smaller than we’d expect a HomePod to be.

Rumor has it that there are multiple versions of the HomePod in the works, including one with a 7-inch iPad-style display. It wouldn’t be surprising if a soundbar-inspired version of the smart speaker is one of the new designs Apple has considered. Though there’s no guarantee that it will release one anytime soon.

But hey, maybe a horizontal HomePod design will help mitigate the problems that caused vibrations from full-size HomePods speakers to leave ugly rings in wooden furniture. That would be something.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.