Apple HomePod with a Screen is coming to revive a forgotten smart home category

Although they look and seem like they’re made just for playing music, smart speakers are, of course, a lot more capable than simple wireless speakers. In fact, they were born to showcase the power of AI-powered smart assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri, which is also why the speaker quality of the first generation of speakers left much to be desired. While controlling your devices and appliances using your voice felt almost magical, it also became quite tiring quickly, especially when you could do things faster using an app on your phone. That’s the reason why smart speakers with displays, a.k.a. smart displays, were born, and that design might finally be coming to Apple’s ecosystem, potentially bringing life back to stagnant waters.

Designer: Apple (via MacWorld)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new smart display coming from the major brands. The latest Amazon Echo Show last year is actually just an upgraded Echo Show 5. Google launched the 2nd-generation Nest Hub in 2021, though some might argue that the Google Pixel Tablet and its speaker dock actually fall under this category. After all, most of these smart displays do look like smart speakers with a tablet stuck on top of them.

Amazon Echo Show 10

Amazon Echo Show 10

That design might be coming to Apple’s smart home device category, thanks to clues found in the latest beta testing of tvOS 17.4. There is no direct evidence, of course, just a new device codenamed “Z314” that just happens to share some internal hardware with the iPad mini 6. The HomePod was actually discovered to already be running tvOS, which would have been weird if it didn’t eventually get some visual capabilities. Again, much of these are based on speculation, but the hints seem to be building up and pointing toward a spring 2024 reveal.

Google Nest Hub 2

Google Nest Hub 2

A HomePod with a touch screen, even just a 7-inch one as indicated by rumors, will offer a significant upgrade to people’s user experience. Although the HomePod already offers physical controls for quickly controlling music, anything else has to be done either through Siri or through a connected iPhone or iPad. The latter scenario, however, can cause additional battery drain to mobile devices, so a dedicated display will go a long way in making it more convenient to access Apple Home settings, media controls, and more. Of course, sticking a tablet on top of a HomePod isn’t the only possible design option available, as our very own Sarang Sheth explored in a piece that envisioned an aesthetic that matched Apple’s style more closely.

That said, it also isn’t certain how far Apple will go in what features it will provide on that screen. The likes of the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub offer video capabilities, though that has also been a thorny subject as far as YouTube is concerned. Apple is traditionally even more conservative in what it allows on its devices, so we can probably expect functionality limited to smart home control, FaceTime, and, of course, its own library of tunes and videos.

Google Pixel Tablet

Google Pixel Tablet

Google Pixel Tablet

Google Pixel Tablet

The post Apple HomePod with a Screen is coming to revive a forgotten smart home category first appeared on Yanko Design.

HomePod Nano speaker concept brings Apple back to its classic Braun-inspired design days

As we hear rumblings of a HomePod 3 with a larger screen, I can’t help but ask about the fate of the HomePod Mini. It was adorable, powerful, and perfectly priced. If anything the HomePod Mini is what really grew the HomePod brand, so seeing it being forgotten feels sad… which is why this concept warms my heart. Meet the HomePod Nano, a fan-made concept that not only revives the small speaker brand but also resuscitates the old Jobs + Jony Ive style of design that Apple was known for in the 2000s.

Designer: Justin Latham

A big deviation from the current HomePod’s design format, the HomePod Nano is a hat-tip to old-school Apple. Steve would probably never approve of a 360° speaker. Speakers need to be plugged, and the only place to plug them is into a wall outlet. Having a speaker in the center of a room would mean worrying about an ugly wire running from the socket to the center table – something that would make Jobs livid. Instead, the HomePod Nano is a radio-inspired speaker that sits on a mantelpiece, shelf, or console unit, with its back facing the wall. The front features a 3-driver array that delivers stellar audio thanks to the two tweeters, single subwoofer, and the two passive radiators underneath for that rich, creamy layer of bass.

Inspired by Braun’s T3 Pocket Radio, the HomePod Nano comes with a front-facing speaker and a display that’s a lot more functional than the one on the current HomePod. Running a fork of Apple’s WatchOS, the display showcases the time in the signature Apple Watch format, while doing a few other key things like giving you access to Siri, apps, and other info like weather reports, smart-home controls, and notifications. In yet another Watch-inspired move, there’s no camera on this device, eliminating any possibility of using the HomePod Nano as a FaceTime device, the way Amazon and Google did with their smart speakers. Instead, the HomePod Nano focuses on delivering Apple’s services and music-streaming chops to your home. The HomePod Nano’s upper surface allegedly works as a wireless charger too, giving it more features than those that exist in Apple’s current smart speaker. NGL, but Steve Jobs would probably like this more.

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Apple just announced the 2nd Gen HomePod, now with Matter support

Outwardly, there’s absolutely no difference between the 2nd Gen HomePod and its predecessor, which was discontinued in 2021. However, on the internals and software front, the new speaker has Apple’s S7 chip with support for Spatial Audio and compliance with the Matter smart-things protocol. The new HomePod now even has temperature and humidity sensors built-in, making it a little more useful than its ancestor… while also being $50 cheaper at just $299.

Designer: Apple

It seems odd that Apple would revive the HomePod after conveniently killing it in 2021 to prioritize the HomePod Mini. However, the fact that Apple’s pushing the smart-home angle with automations, a temperature + humidity sensor, sound detection (for alarms), and Matter compatibility probably indicates the much bigger picture here. Siri was never really Apple’s strongest suit (and Amazon even admitted that Alexa was an overall failure), but the smart home market seems to have gotten a revival with the rise of Matter protocol, which helps unite all compatible IoT devices under a single universal standard.

Other (existing) features are the ability to play music through the speaker simply by tapping your phone on it, using it as an intercom, and pairing two HomePods together for a stereo setup. The HomePod, however, now can sense where it’s in the room and automatically adjust its audio output to provide the best sound quality. There’s even support for Spatial Audio, which allows the HomePod to mimic a 5.1-channel home theater.

The HomePod 2nd Gen will be available starting February, for $299.

The post Apple just announced the 2nd Gen HomePod, now with Matter support first appeared on Yanko Design.

This Apple Power Mac series modern redesign matches Tim cook’s vision!

Macintosh paved the way for personal computers way back in 1984 with its graphical user interface, mouse, and built-in screen – which was revolutionary. For those of us who are ratching our brain to remember this product, The Power Macintosh, later Power Mac, is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple. Launched in 1994, Apple rebranded the family personal computer to Power Macintosh and then gradually faded out in the latter half of 2006. Described by MacWorld Magazine as “The most important technical evolution of the Macintosh since the Mac II debuted in 1987,” the Power Macintosh was Apple’s first computer to use a PowerPC processor. Software written for the Motorola 68030 and 68040 processors that were used in Macintoshes up to that point would not run on the PowerPC natively, so a Mac 68k emulator was included with System 7.1.2. While the emulator provided good compatibility with existing Macintosh software, performance was about one-third slower than comparable Macintosh Quadra machines.

Power Mac G4 and G5 were the last descendants of the Power Mac brand, and then came the era of MacBook Pro. Decades down the line, Apple, led by Steve Jobs, has morphed into a brand that vows to push computing power and design limits, second to none. To bring back the nostalgic memories of the successful Power Mac series PC’s, Ayush Singh Patel reimagines it in a modern avatar.

Ayush, a lead Industrial and CMF designer at Boat Nirvana, has reimagined the classic personal computer as a tribute to the innovative design team at Apple all these years. His refreshing design chronology for the HomePod Max series (Yes, that’s Ayush imagines the revamped version to be called) begins with the Apple 3 and then goes on to the Power Mac series. If your memory aids you, the Apple 3 was a business-targeted PC by Apple released in 1980. Unfortunately, it didn’t significantly impact the market but marks an iconic step in the evolution of Apple’s design language.

Let’s have a look at these reimagined models through the eyes of the designer.

Concept One

The Apple 3 was unsuccessful probably because it was designed in the early days of the company by the core team. Taking such a huge leap was big risk and according to Steve Wozniak, it was the reason for the failure. Nonetheless, this piece of machinery was pivotal in phasing out Apple 2. Ayush revives the old memories with his Concept One PC that looks modern but still has that age-old Mac charm to it.

Concept 2

Concept 2 by the designer takes inspiration from the Power Mac G4 which saw a major redesign and aesthetics. This modern take on the G4 is dominated by the translucent plastic having a minty blue color in an aluminum shell that’s so modern Apple-like.

Concept 3

Then comes the elegantly designed Power Mac G5 which surprised everyone with an anodized aluminum alloy enclosure. At that time, the PC looked absolute charmer, and now this modern inspiration for Concept 3 pushes the allure a notch higher.

Look at more renders by Ayush Singh Patel of the HomePod Max series, which has Apple’s legacy stamped worldwide!

Designer: Ayush Singh Patel

An Ex-Apple designer created this ornamental, almost alien-like Triphonic speaker

After over 20 years of working at the world’s most valuable tech company and being one of the core members of Jony Ive’s design team, Cristopher Stringer is unveiling the Cell Alpha, a high-end AirPlay 2 compatible speaker from his company Syng. The Cell Alpha is a rather absurdly beautiful-looking speaker that packs an absolute punch for its size. Think of it as a combination of cutting-edge technology and a culmination of years worth of effort at Apple to reinvent the music industry, from the iPod and iTunes to the demise of the 3.5mm jack and the birth of the podcast movement. Stinger’s been at the very epicenter of all these movements, giving his company Syng immense credibility. The Cell Alpha from Syng is an alien-ish UFO-like speaker that sits either on a table or off the floor using a stand. Designed to be the world’s first Triphonic speaker, it doesn’t just make you hear audio, it makes you feel it too.

There’s something about the Cell Alpha speaker that reminds me of the Devialet Phantom. There’s often this notion that speakers need to look a certain way, with their diaphragms facing you as they pump out audio. Well, the world’s first Triphonic speaker has its own unique mechanisms. Two forced balanced subwoofers sit on the upper and lower sides of the spherical speaker, pumping rich bass upwards and downwards to fill the room. Between them sits the Cell Alpha’s pièce de résistance, its triphone, a three-horn system that projects sound with absolute accuracy. Place it in any part of the room and the Cell Alpha fills the space with audio. It doesn’t have a front or back, which means your room gets washed with 360° waves of high fidelity sound, and the minute you introduce a second or a third Cell Alpha speaker into the mix, it gives you complete spatial control and total envelopment in crystal clear audio.

It’s not too difficult to tell that the Cell Alpha is the result of over 20 years worth of design at Apple. There’s a slight similarity in its design language to the Harman Kardon Aura which Jony Ive designed too, and the idea of a transparent plastic shell encasing an inner complicated architecture is something the iMac G3 did beautifully. Stringer left Apple in 2017, which means he also worked on the HomePod too. There’s an elegance and mystique about the Cell Alpha that’s absolutely magnetic, and it does reflect exactly how much of a handshake Syng’s design and engineering teams have.

The Cell Alpha isn’t your average speaker, though. It sports a whopping price tag of $1,799 with a table stand and $1,969 with a floor stand. The speaker works with the Syng app that, beyond allowing you to play music from your favorite streaming services, also lets you control your sound field, shape your sound, and operate and control multiple Cell Alpha speakers throughout your home with Multi-Space playback.

Designer: Cristopher Stringer (Syng)

Apple’s HomePod mini won’t leave marks on your fancy wood furniture

Between its diminutive size and more affordable price tag, Apple’s new HomePod mini has a lot going for it over its $300 predecessor. But its greatest strength might be what it won’t do to your expensive furniture. That is, it won’t leave unsightly w...