BloombergMark Gurman revealed today that Apple has developed new speakers equipped with “screens and cameras”, which indicates that we can see a future HomePod-like device that has a built-in screen and camera function for FaceTiming and other functions.
Prior to these rumors, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser managed through the tvOS 14.5 beta code and found that Apple has added FaceTime and iMessage frames, along with a new AVFCapture framework related to taking pictures.
You may be wondering what the tvOS code has to do with HomePod, but in April 2020, Apple started using tvOS as the basis for the software running on omeHomePod instead of iOS. watchOS, tvOS and the software running on the PHomePod are all variants of iOS, but each one is differentiated by the device the software is meant to run on with unique interfaces, APIs and more.
This means that the features included in tvOS are also included in the HomePod software, since they have the same base code. Therefore, FaceTime, iMessage and image capture frameworks added to tvOS in tvOS 14.5 can actually be designed for a future HomePod that has a screen and a camera, as described by Gurman.
OmeHomePod and HomePod mini are able to use FaceTime audio already, but the FaceTime framework detected in 14.5 beta is different from any code related to the existing FaceTime function. The frames are in tvOS 14.5 beta and 14.5 .5HomePod software beta available for selected testers.
Gurman says that no “upcoming launch” is planned for the camera-equipped speaker, so it is possible that no such product will look like. It is also quite possible that iMessage, FaceTime and AVFCapture frameworks introduced in tvOS 14.5 have a completely different purpose that can be completely independent of a HomePod and can remain hidden in the code or used for an unspecified function coming to Apple TV or HomePod in the future.
In semi-related news, 14.5 beta also suggests that Apple could potentially develop a kind of trivia game for Siri, where Siri can provide trivia questions for users to answer. This is marked as “Siri Edutainment” in the code, but it is not clear if it will be a built-in Siri feature or support for a third party product.