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Apple's Home Hub may be more than just a HomePod with a screen

An artist's rendition of a HomePod with a display

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Yet more rumors have appeared about Apple planning a new HomePod with a screen, home hub, or some other new device for the house. A big leak and info from Apple itself may mean that the device is inching closer to release.

Whether it's through patents, supply chain leaks, or now code references, it has long been the case that Apple is believed to be working on a new HomePod. It's variously been predicted to be a HomePod with a screen or a TV sound bar, and it is always just about to launch, except never quite this year.

Apple, for instance, has been researching how to take the fabric outer covering of a HomePod and make it all touch-sensitive. Separately, Apple has looked at whether that same fabric can be turned into some kind of display.

Back in January 2024, there was the latest of a few clues to Apple considering making a platform called "homeOS." In this case, it was a reference to that term in a beta of tvOS 17.4.

But Apple has already got a platform for devices like the HomePod. When Tim Cook opened WWDC 2024, he showed a slide listing six of them, ranging from macOS to visionOS, but also including "Audio & Home."

visionOS, iOS, Audio & Home, watchOS, iPadOS, and macOS in different colors on a white background.
Apple's platforms, as shown by Tim Cook at WWDC 2024

It's true that this isn't homeOS by name, but back during WWDC 2016, Craig Federighi showed a very similar list of platforms that included OS X. The slide was written so that the "X" stood out to the side of the neat row of iOS, tvOS, and so on.

"As we look at [the name] alongside its younger brethren," said Federighi, "something sticks out. We realized that there's a name that would be so much clearer and so much more elegant."

Right there, Apple changed Mac OS X to macOS. Just as with Audio & Home, that didn't change that this was a platform, it was solely a branding difference.

So rumors of Apple making a homeOS are missing that it already has. And while you can have a platform with just two HomePods and an Apple TV, you can also expand it.

The latest Apple Home Hub device rumors

Now references have been found to a device with the identifier "HomeAccessory17,1." The "HomeAccessory" part is a previously unknown category of Apple devices. HomePods, for instance, have identifiers beginning "AudioAccessory."

So this could be a new type of device, which would suggest it isn't a HomePod, or could be a reclassification of existing devices. This new code discovery, and previous reports, at least suggests that the device will run tvOS.

That needn't mean that this is in fact a new Apple TV, although again versions of that are continually rumored. This new code discovery also includes new Apple TV device identifiers.

However, HomePods actually run on tvOS too, or a variation of it, so possibly "HomeAccessory" could mean a HomePod, an Apple TV, or something else entirely.

The rest of the identifier is potentially significant, though. The digits at the end of "HomeAccessory17,1," indicate that this unknown device will have the same A18 processor as the iPhone 16 range.

That's leading to a presumption that the device is a new HomePod, with a screen, which will include Apple Intelligence. At some point this stops being a music speaker and becomes a Mac.

Just as with the fabled Apple Ring, this is not to say that the device won't be all of these things. It is to say that we can't know, and supposition based on the expected processor ignores other possibilities, including ones we know Apple is investigating.

The "HomeAccessory17,1" identifier was spotted by MacRumors.