If you haven’t heard, it is highly rumored that Apple will enter smart screensa field so far dominated by Amazon and Google with products like Echo Show 8 and the Nest Hub. Assuming a product ships by the end of 2022, Apple will be later with more screens than it did with smart speakers — this fall will mark five years since the Amazon Echo Spot and the first generation Echo Show. By comparison, the first HomePod appeared in February 2018, just under four years after the original Amazon Echo.
I’m here to argue that while Apple is definitely late to the party, it is poised to gain a foothold in the market, even if the model people really want may follow in a year or two.
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What kind of smart screen does Apple make, exactly?
Rumors about Apple’s smart display date back to early 2021, shortly after the company discontinued production of the high-end HomePod and shifted the focus to the HomePod mini. Most of the allegations stem from Bloomberg reporter Mark Gorman, who recently repeated some of them in an April 2022 newsletter.
For this reason, it’s not clear if Apple will ship something with a built-in display and speaker. Gurman’s current view is that Apple will sell a new HomePod that connects to your TV, offers a built-in Apple TV (media streaming) and confrontation time (Video calls), the latter through a built-in camera. It will be similar to Meta Portal TV, and upgrade from Apple TV 4Kwhich lacks any camera system and usually relies on a Siri voice control remote control.
It’s not clear if Apple will ship something with a built-in display and speaker.
Gurman previously hinted at an all-in-one smart display, but assuming this project is still in development, it’s uncertain what the touchscreen interface might look like. It’s supposed to borrow cues from iPadOS, but it offers simplified tools for things like media and home controls rather than full apps. In fact, some people are already using dedicated iPads as makeshift smart displays — they just mount them on a wall or refrigerator and leave the Apple Home app running.
Why Apple is facing an uphill battle
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Amazon and Google have had such a strong start that they’re not only the companies to beat, but they’ve also had the time to solve problems and try out features. Amazon, for example, hasn’t produced another monitor with a round screen since the Echo Spot, which has never been great with video or text. Both companies use increasingly simplified interfaces, and Google even added sleep tracking with the second generation of the Nest Hub for 2021.
Apple will benefit from this trial and error, but any company is bound to make its own mistakes when introducing a new product category. In particular, Apple has a special history of ignoring popular trends in favor of carving its own path. Remember when HomePod was first launched? Apple Music It was the only music service allowed to use original Siri commands. To obey the pressure, you can now choose from alternatives like Pandora and Deezer, but spotify Subscribers still have no choice but to use AirPlay.
Meanwhile, Siri and HomeKit keep lagging Amazon Alexa And Google Assistant. Recent platforms tend to have more capable and responsive voice command technology, and HomeKit is a distant third when it comes to sharing the smart home markets. This means fewer compatible accessories, and of course Alexa and Google Assistant will always be more flexible thanks to Android support, not just Apple platforms.
Why the Apple Smart Display is more likely to succeed
Apple doesn’t ignore its ecosystem issues and feature gaps, so Siri and HomePod software continue to evolve. In recent years, the company has added things like intercom features, personal voice profiles, and control to the Apple TV. Much of this may be playing catch-up with Alexa and Google Assistant, but aside from third-party tech support, HomePods now have a few serious shortcomings. If Apple can bury the hatchet with Spotify, it will go a long way toward making Apple’s smart display competitive.
In parallel, the sub-element iPadOS iOS has – intentionally or unintentionally – laid the foundation for a high-quality, intelligent display interface. The Apple Home app has grown to make better use of tablet-sized screens, and larger tools have been introduced with iPadOS 15, which is a big reason why iPads make a logical starting point. It’s not hard to imagine modified versions of these gadgets filling the home screen of Smart View.
Intentionally or unintentionally, iPadOS’s rendering of iOS laid the foundation for a high-quality, intelligent display interface.
Sure, iPads make practical smart displays on their own, but there is room for a dedicated product in the Apple ecosystem for a number of reasons. iPads aren’t designed to sit in one place on continuous power, so they can’t provide ambient computing without extra work. Displays are also inherently cheaper than a do-it-all tablet, and even the iPad Pro’s speakers are inferior to what you’d get from something like the Nest Hub.
Finally, Apple has a dedicated fan base, who will likely be interested in something that better integrates with its ecosystem and takes an alternative approach to Amazon, Google, or Meta. Consider a HomePod connected to a Shared TV — in theory, you could use a combination of FaceTime and SharePlay to watch movies remotely with friends and loved ones. Portal TV has a similar option, but only for Facebook Watch, and it’s not a living room experience no matter how hard it is to promote it as such. In contrast, you can use Apple’s SharePlay with services like Apple TV PlusAnd Disney PlusAnd HBO Maxeven Apple Fitness Plus.
Are you interested in buying an Apple Smart Display?
Curse Apple first generation
Roger Vengas / Android Authority
Given its track record with new product categories, Apple’s first-generation Smart Display will probably do well enough, but it takes a while to find traction. The company’s missteps included everything from very narrow third-party support to unreasonably high prices, both of which were likely to blame for the original HomePod’s sinking. At $349, it’s hard to sell when you can get other high-quality smart speakers like the Sonos One for under $100.
It will likely take Apple a generation or two to gauge its strengths and audience demand, and react accordingly.
It will likely take Apple a generation or two to gauge its strengths and audience demand, and react accordingly. Perhaps the best evidence of this is in fact Apple Watch, which were initially pushed so hard as a fashion accessory, that you can get real gold models that cost up to $10,000. Series 2 was centered around health and fitness, which Apple still emphasizes today.
Who knows – the company can get her out of the garden on her first swing. Regardless, I’m curious to see what Apple’s interpretation of the smart display looks like.
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