It's no secret that Apple's smart home platform is trailing well behind both Amazon and Google, nor is it a surprise — there are far fewer products that work with HomeKit, and those that do tend to be more expensive than those that work with Alexa and Google Assistant.
However, Apple looks like it wants to make up that ground, starting with a smart display that would challenge the likes of the Amazon Echo Show family and Google Nest Hub Max. This iPad-like device would let you control smart home devices, play videos, and make FaceTime calls, according to a Bloomberg report (opens in new tab). The device could be then mounted to a wall or somewhere else. Apple could also be looking at launching a new Apple TV device, which could arrive sometime in 2024, according to the report.
This news comes a day after Apple announced the HomePod (2nd generation), which looks like the original, but has better audio capabilities, Matter support, and both temperature and humidity sensors built in (to name a few things). Its $299 price does place it higher than all other smart speakers, which will make it a tough sell for anyone not invested in Apple's ecosystem.
Apple can actually Matter in the smart home wars
The sooner Apple could get this out, the better. Now that Matter is being rolled out — which presumably will open up HomeKit to far more smart home products — there has never been a more opportune time to roll out a display that's more tailored to the smart home than anything offered by Amazon or Google.
The Amazon Echo Show 15 is the closest thing we have to a bona fide smart home display, as it has a widget that lets you control smart home devices, and lets you see feeds from your home security cameras. (It's even been updated to act as a Fire TV, which is neat). However, the smart home controls feel a little shoehorned in to one small panel.
In truth, you could repurpose an older iPad, and just have the HomeKit app front and center, but I imagine that Apple has something better in mind.
But, it better do so quick, as the new Google Pixel tablet, which was teased last year by Google, could be the new smart display to beat; not only is it a tablet, but it docks into a base which has some speakers built in, to add more to your home entertainment.
Personally, I rank HomeKit second behind Alexa in terms of smart home capabilities and integrations; although HomeKit devices are fewer in number, you can do more with them than you can with Google Home. That will be changing in the near future, as Google has promised greater smart home functionality, so Apple better hurry if it wants to regain some ground.