Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently developing a version of the Apple TV with an integrated HomePod speaker and camera. The report also mentions an Amazon Echo Show-like device which would essentially turn the company’s HomePod into a smart display, complete with a web cam for video chatting.
According to the article, the new Apple TV would act like a normal Apple TV when you connect it to a television, but because of its built-in speaker, you’d be able to also interact with it like you do a HomePod. This means you wouldn’t have to fire up your TV to talk to Siri – you could do everything right through the set-top-box itself.
You’d, of course, need the TV on to use the camera which will also reportedly come on this new model. I’m not entirely sure where the camera would be located – Bloomberg doesn’t specify, but I’d imagine somewhere on the front of the box which means it’ll have to be relatively high up from the ground so it could see you sitting on your couch. Nonetheless, the hardware would let you video chat with others from the comfort of your living room.
If these plans pan out, it’d be Apple’s most aggressive move at owning your living room. It would integrate two of the company’s smart home products and add video conferencing, making the TV a one-stop-shop for controlling your home and interacting with others.
The other device mentioned in the report would be Apple’s version of a smart display, complete with a camera for video chats. It’d be powered by Siri and give you visuals that coincide with whatever audible answers the voice assistant gives you.
These devices would come at a time where the Cupertino company falls far behind the leaps and bounds Amazon and Google have made over the past few years in the smart home space. Both companies own such large portions of the market with their various streaming TV devices, smart speakers and screens that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete.
One major problem with Apple’s approach has been pricing. The original HomePod cost $349 before it was permanently discounted to $299, and even then they couldn’t get sales up. Eventually, the company canned the device and switched focus to the much cheaper $99 HomePod mini, a speaker that’s built to compete with alternatives that cost half as much.
The Apple TV is also pretty expensive at $179, while Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Google’s Chromecast with Google TV can be had for much less.
If Apple wants a chance at stealing some of the market share from its competitors, it’ll have to price these upcoming devices so that many more people could afford them. Relying on proprietary software simply won’t be enough, as was proven with the HomePod’s previous exclusivity to Apple Music users.
Of course, the report doesn’t mentioned when these devices could be launched, but it’s incredibly unlikely they’ll hit the market within the next year. It’s also not clear whether either will actually launch, so we’ll have to wait for more insight to surface before making any guesses.