According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple had intended to introduce a portable battery-powered version of its HomePod smart speaker. Gurman said in his PowerOn email that the business even built a prototype HomePod Bluetooth speaker before abandoning the project. If Gurman’s claim is true, it’s a pity, since there aren’t many really portable smart speakers on the market right now, and we’d welcome a competitor to challenge our favorite model, the Sonos Roam, if only to mix things up a little.
Apple’s lone wireless speaker, the HomePod small (the original HomePod was discontinued in March of last year), now requires a power source. More recently, Apple quietly dropped the Beats Pill+, its lone Bluetooth speaker from its Beats business. Apple has been slowly reducing the Beats product selection over the past year, having also discontinued the Powerbeats, Beats EP, and Solo Pro headphones and earbuds, but the company has yet to acknowledge the reason for the change.
While the Beats Pill+’s cancellation might be Apple’s method of creating a place for a new HomePod Bluetooth speaker, Gurman is skeptical, stating that a portable smart speaker under the Apple brand would be surprising. However, we’re less quick to rule out the idea. After all, Apple has dramatically extended its audio device lineup in recent years, first with the AirPods, which revolutionized the true wireless earbuds industry, and then with the AirPods Max, which debuted in the realm of over-ear headphones.
Now that the HomePod lineup has been limited to a single, smaller version of the original smart speaker, there’s a strong desire for – and anticipation for – a new HomePod to be released soon.
what’s next for the Apple HomePod?
The Apple HomePod mini is a terrific speaker in its own right, but its little size and cheap price make us wonder whether Apple will create a successor to its original flagship smart speaker to compete with more powerful versions like the Amazon Echo Studio and Sonos One. We’ve noticed a number of patents since Apple stopped the HomePod, which might indicate that the firm is working on a new HomePod model – the so-called Apple HomePod 2 – that could have a display if reports are to be believed.
Gurman previously said in a Bloomberg article that “The business had been working on an enhanced version of the bigger HomePod for sale in 2022 before it was discontinued. It has also been working on new speakers with displays and cameras, although no release date has been set “..
So, although there’s no assurance that a new HomePod will be released this year, it’s clear that Apple is still experimenting with wireless speakers. We believe that any new HomePod will be a successor for Apple’s original smart speaker, which implies it will be large and powerful, and likely too heavy to be a portable Bluetooth speaker.
That isn’t to argue that a portable HomePod is completely unthinkable. In any case, we’d be astonished if another Beats Bluetooth speaker didn’t appear. The subsidiary’s products are often less expensive than Apple’s own, allowing the business to reach a wider audience in the audio industry. While Beats products work well in the greater Apple ecosystem, they’re also more operating system neutral than Apple’s own devices, with models like the Beats Fit Pro giving the same benefits to Android users as they do to iOS users.
So we believe a Beats-branded Bluetooth speaker that isn’t linked to anyone ecosystem would be a good fit, but a smart speaker that can switch between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth screams “Apple” – at least to us.
In any event, we anticipate new speakers from Apple and Beats in the near future. We only have the Apple HomePod mini for now, and as much as we enjoy it, it doesn’t compare to Sonos’ wireless speakers in terms of audio quality – and we know from the original HomePod that Apple can deliver excellent audio outside of the AirPods line of true wireless earbuds and headphones.