With the Apple HomePod discontinued and a new, 2nd-gen Google Nest Hub on the way, Apple is at risk of losing ground on smart home tech. Unless, that is, it can come up with some exciting new products, like this slick Apple smart display concept (opens in new tab) envisioned by 9to5Mac (opens in new tab) contributor Parker Ortolani.
The concept design combines aspects of the HomePod, iMac, iPad and even Apple TV, but brings them all together into a much more original-looking and distinctive smart display than the conservative Nest Hub.
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Identifying that Apple could streamline development by using existing parts, Ortolani’s design is based around the same 10.2-inch screen as the standard iPad. That’s mounted to a metal stand reminiscent of the iMac line, in contrast to the new Nest Hub’s combined base and speaker. Besides aesthetics, this would grant the benefit of being able to adjust the screen’s angle, something practically unheard of on current smart displays without the aid of a separate stand.
Apple TV’s tvOS would be repurposed to work on a small touchscreen, including its screensavers, which become clock backgrounds in Ortolani’s concept. A new, dedicated Home app is also included to handle smart home controls.
Rather than use the audio hardware from the HomePod or HomePod mini, Ortolani proposes taking the speakers from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro instead. This would, in theory, replicate the tablet’s relatively high sound quality without compromising the smart display’s sleekness; something that larger sound drivers would risk. Still, the concept includes the ability to connect a pair of HomePod mini speakers to use as an expanded stereo pair.
“This product would absolutely be a highly premium device. It would likely be more expensive than the original HomePod even was,” wrote Ortolani. “But customers would better understand the value they are getting out of a device with a display, even at a higher price point.”
I’m not as convinced Apple could aim so high with its pricing — the cost of the HomePod is partially why it never became the mega-hit that Apple is accustomed to, leaving it discontinued while the $99 HomePod mini carries on.
But this concept design is definitely a lot more stylish than most smart displays, and Apple could well be mulling over a new kind of product instead of trying again with a HomePod 2. So who knows? Maybe we could eventually have these little iPad/iMac/HomePod hybrids in our kitchens and living rooms.
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