One of the rumors heading into next week's WWDC 2023 is an improvement to iOS 17 that will transform your iPhone into a smart display. Flip your device into landscape mode and in its locked state, it will show calendar appointments, weather and incoming notifications, among other things, if reports are to be believed.
That's great, but in order to really compete with Android on this front, I would really love to see a feature that can turn the best iPads into a de facto Echo Show 15. I've had Amazon's largest smart display hanging in my kitchen for more than a year, and it's invaluable for playing music, turning smart lights on and off, looking up the weather and recipes, calendar invites, and even streaming movies and TV shows.
The new Google Pixel Tablet is headed in this direction; it has a clever magnetic charging dock with a built-in speaker, so not only do you not have to worry about it running out of power, but you also get better audio to boot. And, while the Pixel Tablet is docked, it will display an interface that lets you easily control your smart home devices.
Imagine an iPad with a MagSafe charger that you could snap into a dock — be it on a wall or on a table — that converts the tablet into a useful device, even when you're not using it.
Being able to see at a glance if you need to carry an umbrella, or if you're running late for an appointment, would add an extra dimension to a device that's already pretty useful.
An iPad could be the perfect smart home hub
If Apple wants to get more serious about the smart home, turning the iPad into a base station for all your lights, thermostats, security cameras, and smart locks makes a lot of sense.
While you can't control as many smart home device with HomeKit as you can with Alexa and Google Assistant, Apple's app lets you do a lot more with those devices. Between the three companies, Apple's smart home app is arguably the best, too, but Google has been making a lot of changes recently that has made it more competitive. Being able to use the iPad as a hub would at least keep Apple on a par with what Google has done with the Pixel Tablet.
Given that we haven't heard any rumors to this effect, I'm doubtful that my wish list will be fulfilled when Tim Cook & co. take the stage on June 5. Apple's new VR/AR headset and a potential glut of new Macs will probably dominate the proceedings. But I can hope, right?
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Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.