In his latest “Power On” newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says an upcoming HomePod could serve as a speaker doc for an iPad.
He says Apple is looking to eventually push its tablet deeper into the home with a plan to turn the device into a smart hub and speaker. The approach would be similar to what Google is doing with its upcoming Pixel Tablet (pictured).
From the article: When Google first showcased that product in May, it appeared to be an old-school tablet with run-of-the-mill Android features. But earlier this month, the company disclosed it would also sell a new accessory that lets you dock the Pixel Tablet and use it like a smart display and home-control device.
I’m told Apple is working to bring similar functionality to the iPad as soon as 2023. I reported last year that Apple is exploring a stand-alone device that combines an iPad with a speaker hub. The idea is to offer something that users can place on a kitchen counter, in the living room or on their nightstand. But Apple also has worked on an iPad docking accessory that it could sell separately and would accomplish much of the same thing.
Regardless of its ultimate approach, the move would mark one of Apple’s most significant pushes into smart-home devices, expanding on its still small foothold in set-top boxes and speakers. It already offers the Apple TV and HomePod, but nothing that rivals the Echo Show from Amazon.com Inc. or Google’s latest efforts.
Apple has filed for and/or been granted various patents that hint at such a device. One is number 9,711,160, granted in 2017 for “smart dock for activating a voice recognition mode of a portable electronic device.”
The patent involves a dock for a portable electronic device including a housing, a connector extending from the housing to connect the device to the dock, a microphone integrated within the housing, and a processor. The processor is operatively coupled to receive audio input from the microphone, and in response to the audio input, transmit a message to the portable electronic device via the connector to activate a voice recognition mode of the portable electronic device.
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