This time next year, you may have to decide whether to buy a new type of HomePod that comes with a display. According to the famous Apple analyst Ming-Chu Kuo, the tech giant may introduce the next-generation HomePod with a 7-inch panel in the first half of 2024. The display, which will be manufactured by Chinese supplier Tianma, “may allow for closer integration with other Apple hardware products.” This marks a “significant shift in the company’s smart home strategy,” he said.

Kuo’s prediction echoes earlier reports from of Bloomberg Mark German that the company is developing a kitchen accessory that combines an iPad with a speaker. Just this January, Gurman reiterated that Apple is working on a range of smart home devices in an effort to compete with offerings from Amazon and Google. One of the products it is reportedly developing is a low-end iPad that can control various IoT devices, such as thermostats and lights, and can be used for video chats. It remains to be seen if this is also the display that will be integrated with the HomePod.

By launching a speaker with a smart display, Apple will finally be able to offer a direct competitor to Google’s Nest Hub and Amazon’s Echo Show models. Apple lags behind its peers when it comes to smart home devices — its smart speaker, for example, arrived years later than the Echo. Bloomberg back in 2017 said it was because Apple executives had a hard time figuring out where it would fit into their product ecosystem.

As Apple is clearly still in the process of catching up with its competitors in the space, consumers can choose between the HomePod mini and the newer second generation HomePod that was released in January for now. The new model has a touch panel at the top, but it has limited capabilities, which include adjusting the volume, skipping songs and calling Siri.

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