One of the many interesting parts of playing around with beta software is poking for things that you’re not supposed to find. In the case of iOS 16, announced just yesterday at WWDC, it seems Apple has buried references to a HomePod. But not just any HomePod. This is a HomePod that doesn’t exist yet. At least, not outside Apple’s fortress of secrecy.
The story comes by way of 9to5Mac which stumbled upon the interesting mention while having an aforementioned poke around in the beta software. They found references to “AudioAccessory6” buried in the beta, which fits with the HomePod naming scheme, but doesn’t refer to an existing model. For reference, the HomePod Mini was AudioAccessory5, and the original model AudioAccessory1.
There have been various rumors of a new HomePod and it’s not outrageous to think there would be one coming this year. The HomePod Mini debuted in late 2020, while the original launched in 2018. Two years between each. We would expect the next iPhone to start hitting shelves in its usual September window with iOS 16 arriving at the same time, so a new HomePod before the holidays would fit nicely.
Supply chain analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, has previously reported on the possibility of a new HomePod either in Q4 of this year or Q1 2023. So, again, this would fit with what is now being found within iOS 16. Kuo’s reports suggest something of a revision to the HomePod line rather than anything radical. We’re certainly not expecting the previously rumored HomePod/Apple TV hybrid to be the mysterious AudioAccessory6.
The HomePod, and smart speakers in general, is an important gateway into the smart home, too. The HomePod Mini doesn’t have the reach of an Amazon or Google speaker, but it certainly has its strong points. And with Apple all-in on supporting Matter, now more than ever might be the time to get a new smart speaker out the door. As an additional treat, Apple is preparing to make HomePod Software 16 available as a beta to the public for the first time this year.