Apple TV set-top box with integrated homepod speakers and video conferencing

Apple is lagging behind in the smart-home space, but a versatile new device in early development could change that.

The company is working on a product that will combine an Apple TV set-top box with a homepod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing via a connected TV and other smart-home functions, according to people familiar with the matter who did not ask about internal issues. Will be identified by discussion.

Other capabilities of the device will include standard Apple TV box functions such as watching videos and gaming plus using smart speakers such as playing music and using Apple’s Siri Digital Assistant. When launched, it will represent Apple’s most ambitious smart-home hardware offer.

Cupertino, a California-based technology giant, is considering launching a high-end speaker with a touch screen to better compete with market leaders Google and Amazon, people said. This type of device will combine an iPad with a homepod speaker and will also include a camera for video chat. Apple has sought to connect the iPad to a speaker with a robotic arm that can follow a user around a room like Amazon’s latest Echo Show gadget.

Both Apple product developments are still in the early stages and the company may not decide to launch or change key features. Companies often work on new ideas and devices without end shipping. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

New offers could help revive Apple’s fortunes in the smart-home segment. According to Strategy Analytics, the company accounted for 2 percent of the TV streaming device market in 2020, while the home speaker had less than 10 percent of the smart speaker market for most of its existence.

In March, Apple shut down its high-end homepod, when the Apple TV box had not been updated for more than three years. Last year, the company launched the Homepod Mini, which did well due to the low price.

Apple merged its HomePod and Apple TV engineering groups in 2020 and integrated the built-in software that runs on both devices. This was an early indication that Apple might eventually integrate the hardware lines.

Apple has organized a virtual event to unveil the 5G iPhone model
The Apple HomePod mini speaker was unveiled on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at the launch of a virtual product on a laptop computer in Tiskilwa, Illinois, USA. Apple Inc. Has unveiled four newly designed iPhone gadgets, including 5G wireless capability, upgraded camera, and faster processor. , And a wide range of screen sizes.
A combined speaker and TV box is not a product category that Google and Amazon still take seriously, although Facebook sells a portal video chat device that uses a TV as its display, and Amazon sells the Fire TV Cube Box with a small speaker. Amazon, however, leads the smart display segment, with the sound of smart speakers including screens.

With the launch of the original Echo Show in 2017, Amazon popularized the first smart speaker. Google’s Alphabet offers 7- and 10-inch versions of its Nest Hub, which combines Google Assistant with speakers and screens. Amazon is also working on a new speaker with a screen for user walls that could act as a smart home hub. In March, Bloomberg News reported that Apple was exploring new smart speakers, including displays and cameras.

Inside the 2020 CES event

Apple’s HomeKit software – which allows third-party devices to be controlled via an app or series by iPhone devices, iPad models and homepods – supports fewer products than rival systems from Amazon and Google. The new Apple devices will not change that alone, but may give Apple and potential partners new reasons to invest in the larger Apple smart-home ecosystem.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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