With experts beginning to fear that Apple’s product launches in October could turn into a snoozefest, it’s gratifying to hear that something unusual is in the pipeline: a new docking accessory that will transform the iPad into a speaker and home hub.
Mark Gurman, the prolific leaker and Bloomberg columnist, has claimed in the past that Apple is working on a new product category to challenge Amazon’s Echo Show and similar smart speaker hubs: devices that would combine elements of the iPad, HomePod and Apple TV. These products would offer a high-quality speaker, screen, voice activation and the ability to control an ecosystem of smart-home devices and accessories.
Gurman still thinks this is on the way, but it’s probably still a long way off. In his latest Power On newsletter, he predicts that the company has come up with an easier and faster route to the same market.
Taking an approach reminiscent of Nintendo’s Switch, which can act as a stationary game console connected to a monitor or as a portable handheld, Apple’s under-development docking accessory could allow an iPad to turn into a home hub when it’s used. is connected, without obliging the owner to a completely house-bound product. As 9to5Mac points out, this would be a direct competitor to Google’s recently unveiled speaker dock for the Pixel tablet.
While this offers a more direct (and cheaper) route to market than a standalone speaker hub, it will likely arrive in 2023.
Apple has been watching the home hub market for years, but never seems to be able to decide which product to base its strategy on. The HomePod is limited by its lack of a screen and generally disappointing smart features, while the Apple TV relies on additional products; the killer home product would combine elements of both. With Amazon and Google dominating the market, Apple has to act quickly to not be left behind.