Apple is working on a mysterious new smart-home accessory, according to a new leak

The Amazon Echo Show 10 smart display on a table
Could the Amazon Echo Show provide a blueprint for Apple's home accessory? (Image credit: Amazon)

It’s long been rumored that Apple is working on a smart speaker with a built-in display to compete with products like the Amazon Echo Show, but now news outlet MacRumors claims to have definitive proof that Apple has something up its sleeve.

Until now most information about such a device has been limited to supply-chain whispers and analysts’ opinions, but MacRumors says it's discovered code “on Apple's backend” that supposedly confirms that the company is working on a mysterious home accessory.

While the leak itself doesn’t prove it, the contention seems to be that this device is a long-rumored product that blends a HomePod-like speaker with an adjustable touchscreen display.

The code in question refers to a device that's identified by the codename 'HomeAccessory17,1'. Interestingly, this is the first Apple device to have the 'HomeAccessory' tag, suggesting that it's a device in an entirely new product category – and that lends weight to the idea that this is the mooted HomePod-with-display device that's unlike anything Apple has made before. 

Powered by the A18 chip

The iMac G4 against a white background.

Rumors have suggested Apple's home accessory could look something like the iMac G4 (Image credit: Apple)

That’s not the only interesting tidbit in the identifier: the 17,1 number also offers up a clue or two. That’s because Apple uses numbers like these to reveal which chip will be in its devices. As we saw earlier this week, the '17' is thought to refer to the A18 series of chips (the discrepancy between the numbers is a quirk of Apple's numbering convention), which implies that the home accessory will be outfitted with the same chip as the upcoming iPhone 16 line.

With the A18 in tow, the home accessory would presumably be able to run Apple Intelligence. Apple’s brand-new artificial intelligence (AI) platform requires at least an A17 Pro chip. The entry-level A18 (as opposed to the A18 Pro) is thought to be based on the A17 Pro, meaning the home accessory could well have the power to run Apple Intelligence and give your smart home a real boost. As well as that, it would likely use the upgraded version of Siri that’s coming in iOS 18, since the existing HomePod relies heavily on Apple’s virtual assistant.

MacRumors says the code also suggests that the home accessory will run on a variant of the Apple TV’s tvOS. It’s long been rumored that Apple is working on an operating system specifically for smart-home devices (dubbed, unsurprisingly, 'homeOS'), and this variant could be the first version of that operating system. The code also contains references to two as-yet-unreleased Apple TV models with the identifiers AppleTV14,4 and AppleTV14,5, which might launch later in 2024.

With this freshly unearthed code seemingly confirming Apple’s plans for an enigmatic new home accessory, it might not be long until we see exactly what Apple has been working on. Apple’s next big launch party is its special event in September, at which all might be revealed.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.