Apple today released the first beta of iOS 16 to developers, and it comes with a bunch of new features – including a completely redesigned lock screen with widgets, revamped notifications, iMessage improvements, and more. And it also hints at a new HomePod model that may be coming soon.
As discovered by 9to5Mac, there are references to an unreleased HomePod model hidden in the iOS 16 beta code. This HomePod is labeled internally as “AudioAccessory6,” while HomePod mini is “AudioAccessory5” and the original HomePod is “AudioAccessory1.”
Unfortunately the codes do not reveal any other details about this unreleased HomePod, but they do make it clear that iOS 16 is ready to support a new HomePod model.
Last month, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple has been working on a new HomePod, with plans to launch it in late 2022 or early 2023. The findings in the iOS 16 code corroborate Kuo’s report since any devices released within this time frame will run the iOS 16 software.
Not much is known about what new features there will be in the new HomePod. Kuo believes that “there may not be much innovation in hardware design,” which suggests that Apple will just upgrade the HomePod mini with better internal specifications.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman previously reported that Apple has been experimenting with HomePod prototypes combined with the Apple TV into a single product. However, it seems that this product is far from ready for the market. There are also rumors about the return of a bigger HomePod model.
It’s worth noting that iOS 16 is currently available as beta software for developers via the Apple Developer website. A public beta will be released next month, while the official release is expected this fall.