Apple’s HomePod with a screen now rumored for 2025 release, but has the Echo Show already won that smart home race?

A closeup of the Apple HomePod 2
(Image credit: Apple)

We've heard rumors that Apple is working on a HomePod with a screen to act as a smart hub for years now. Although we're still far from an official confirmation, the latest from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman's latest Power On newsletter suggests that Apple is at least continuing to work on innovative ways to combine its devices – including creating a HomePod-meets-iPad hybrid – but that we should expect this new Apple home hub to appear this year.

In the newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple has been testing a bunch of novel ways to bring its different offerings together. "There was a device that would combine the Apple TV, FaceTime and HomePod in one system, as well as a HomePod with a screen that swivels like a robotic arm", Gurman writes. "Apple also has explored making iPad-like smart displays that could be magnetically attached to a wall."

As exciting as these Franken-devices sound, these appear to have just been experiments so far. However, that doesn't mean a smart home device with a display won't be part of Apple's more distant future. Gurman notes that Apple has been talking with suppliers about the idea – such as China's BYD, which is involved in manufacturing some iPads – but he suggests we're likely to be waiting until 2025 at the earliest, perhaps later.

Would a HomePod-meets-iPad be too little too late?

There are examples of Apple entering a specific product category late and yet still succeeding – its first pair of over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones, the Apple AirPods Max, were only released in 2020. And while they might be too expensive to be considered fully mainstream, it's amazing how many you see around in cities (or, perhaps, how many knock-offs you see – but either way, it shows how popular they are).

Does this mean that whenever Apple's HomePod with a screen reaches the market – even if that's another whole year away – it's guaranteed to sway Apple lovers? We're not so sure. 

Apple certainly has the tech and the marketing to make most of its products fly, but that hasn't been the case with the HomePod. Apple's smart speaker is far from a disaster, but right now it seems as if it'll always be second best to Amazon's smart speakers, whether that's the Echo, smaller Echo Dot or – in this case – the Echo Show with a screen. The Echo Show 10 is an incredibly smart version of a smart screen, even following some of the concepts Apple apparently played with, like a moving screen.

Apple would probably have to do more than bring us an iPad-like screen on a HomePod-like smart speaker to tempt those who like the idea of a smart screen away from Amazon and its (powerful) ecosystem, and convince those who are yet to buy into the idea of one that they really need one in their homes. 

Then again, if Gurman is right and Apple's plans involve combining a bunch of different offerings into one device maybe rather than bring out its own late version of an Amazon Echo Show, maybe Apple can bring us something completely different. As long as Amazon doesn't beat it to that punch in the years between now and whatever Apple's planning…

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Becca Caddy

Becca is a contributor to TechRadar, a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than ten years, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality.