As my colleague Zac Hall remarked yesterday, Apple’s home strategy is a kind of mess. It really guarantees a conversation around what the company wants to achieve in customers’ homes. Since Apple TV and HomePod are both in a strange state, it occurred to me that it might be valuable to imagine how the two product lines could be merged. Enter HomePod TV …
Smart home screens have become an important part of the smart home story. Whether it’s the Google Nest Hub or the Amazon Echo Show, Apple’s main competitors have realized that they can sell more expensive home speakers by adding a display.
Apple already has all the major things they need to create a great smart display for HomeKit. It starts with the same 10.2 Ret Retina display panel on the $ 329 iPad. It’s more affordable and certainly not nearly as beautiful as the iPad Pro screen, but it’s still beautiful. And since you won’t be looking at it for long periods of time up close, it’s not really a necessity to have the absolute best display. Mount the display on a smaller iMac-style foot with adjustable angles, and you have a smart display perfect for the home.
Protective watches and screens
When a smart display is not in use, it should display a beautiful clock and / or relevant information of your choice. Apple already knows how to make beautiful watches. It could extend the same faces of the watch that make the Apple Watch such a beautiful watch on a bigger screen. Some of the complications could make the jump, such as fitness rings.
Like the Apple Watch, you can press and hold to change the face of the watch. This is much easier than the solutions that current smart displays use. Usually you need to look for the settings.
Screensavers on tvOS are a truly beloved part of the platform and would create amazing digital clock backgrounds. Whether it’s panning a city at night or some rocks during the day, the screen could show beautiful scenery whenever you want.
tvOS on smaller displays
tvOS is an important part of this story. HomePod and HomePod mini already run versions of tvOS with HomeKit support. Apple could take the existing tvOS interface and optimize it for smaller displays. But there are some key changes I would make to improve the experience. Most of these changes revolve around the need for tactile input.
Just swipe up on the clock to reveal your apps below it with each row of four apps. Instead of the presented images that appear on the Apple TV, the watch will stay there with the possibility to slide horizontally between different looks, such as the weather and the calendar.
tvOS would need some new applications to complete the smart screen. The first is a new Home application. TvOS currently has HomeKit commands in the new control center. But a dedicated app would be very important in a product like this. It should display large buttons and switch easily to touch.
When it comes to smart displays, sound is incredibly important. Of course, you can use Siri to play any video or sound you want. The same great apps for Music and Podcasts would come from Apple TV. You can see beautiful works of art as well as lyrics. All apps available on tvOS could also be downloaded from the App Store on the HomePod TV. Each service would already be ready to operate on the first day.
IPad Pro has amazing quad speakers. Due to the aluminum base and the lack of a battery, it opens a ton of extra space. The same stunning 12.9 ″ iPad Pro speakers could theoretically fit inside a smaller device and still deliver the same expanding sound.
You could also pair your HomePod TV with your HomePod mini to create an even better surround sound audio experience in any space.
Facetime and TrueDepth profiles
They would also be great for Facetime and Facetime Audio calls. The camera above the display would currently gain the same LED on MacBooks to indicate when the camera and / or microphone are turned on. Better yet, if it includes a TrueDepth camera module, the HomePod TV could tell which family member is using the device and display different profiles. tvOS already has the infrastructure for different profiles.
This product would be absolutely an extremely premium device. It would probably be more expensive than the original HomePod itself. But customers would better understand the value they get from a screened device, even at a higher price.
There are so many different things that could be done with a product like this from Apple. It could act as a small Sidecar display on the desktop. With Apple Arcade games it could be a small mounted game tablet that you can pair with a controller. The possibilities are endless.
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