A bigger, cheaper HomePod may have been revealed in iOS 16 – and I’m here for it

apple homepod against blue background
(Image credit: pianodiaphragm / Shutterstock.com)

At Apple's annual big-reveal WWDC 2022 conference, Tim Cook's behemoth has released the first beta of iOS 16 to developers. Cue in-depth analysis on the plethora of fresh features (including reworked notifications that don't impinge on your lock screen photo, which is also far more customizable is general) and, most excitingly for HomePod lovers, the first proof from Apple of a new HomePod model… probably. 

Within the beta (a pre-release version of the software that is given out to a specially selected group users to try in the wild – although it can be accessed and downloaded by mere mortals if you and your iPhone are feeling brave) there are references to an unreleased HomePod model. 

As first spotted by 9to5Mac, the original HomePod within the beta code is labelled 'AudioAccessory1' and the HomePod mini is 'AudioAccessory5'. The exciting thing is, there's an 'AudioAccessory6' there too… 

What else does all of this tell us? Admittedly, nothing about the actual size, specifications, price or release date of the hotly-anticipated HomePod 2 (as it may or may not be called). But what these codes do prove is that iOS 16 is prepped and willing to support a brand new HomePod model.

Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has already claimed that Apple is readying a new HomePod, slated for a 2022 or early 2023 launch date. The good news is that any Apple devices released in that particular time window will run on iOS 16, so the recent findings within the beta reinforce Kuo's prediction. 

Opinion: I'm yearning for a new HomePod – as long as it's competitively priced

apple homepod with music album art in the background

(Image credit: Apple)

While little is known about the new HomePod's features (Kuo has claimed that “there may not be much innovation in hardware design”) don't forget that Apple actually discontinued the original HomePod in 2021, even though it is the only one of its two smart speakers to gain support for spatial audio.  

A newer, bigger, spatial audio-friendly Apple HomePod that, crucially, is not priced quite as hot and heavy as Apple's original 2017 HomePod is an exciting prospect for the music-lover indeed. I would love to see it. I'd be one of the first in line to snap one up, too. 

Apple's original HomePod is still a sonic joy and a thing of beauty – detailed, expansive, snappy, zealous – and I still gaze at that pulsating orb of light happily as Siri bends to my will. That said, it came in laughably expensive in a market where $50 is the going rate for the Amazon Echo voice assistant speaker alternative. 

Might Apple fashion a HomePod with a screen to rival the Amazon Echo Show 10 – which, let's be honest, looks very much like a HomePod with an iPad stuck to it on an angle? I hope not. For one thing, Amazon has already moved on to the Echo Show 15, which loses the big-barrel speaker idea, and for another, an Apple smart speaker with an added screen would surely drive prices skyward once more. 

For my money, Apple excels in audio quality – when it wants to. If the Cupertino giant can muster all of its surgical skill when integrating HomePod's drivers, but do so within a slightly bigger enclosure and at a more palatable asking fee, they should build it. People will come (Ray)…

Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.